The Position in Gloucestershire
- The Strategic Coordination Group (SCG), chaired by Sarah Scott, Director of Public Health at the county council is the multi-agency group consisting of partners from across the county who is leading Gloucestershire’s response to Covid-19. The group is currently meeting weekly. It is supported by a “Tactical Coordination Group” (TCG) that is responsible for delivering the actions from the SCG.
- Public Health England (PHE) has formally confirmed:
- 29 cases in the county
- 1 death in the county
- 242 cases in South West
Total UK Tests: 78,340
Total UK Cases: 5,683
Total UK Deaths: 281
PHE is now prioritising testing for Covid-19 for those who require hospital care for pneumonia or acute respiratory illness. Wider community testing is no longer happening as a matter of course but PHE will continue to investigate if there are specific outbreaks, i.e. where several cases are connected, especially in a particular setting such as care homes.
In case you have not yet seen it, here is the latest guidance on social distancing for everyone in the UK and protecting older people and vulnerable adults, which was published on 16 March 2020. This guidance also includes a note on the group of vulnerable people who are at even higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and who should therefore expect to be contacted directly with advice on the more stringent measures they should take in order to keep themselves and others safe
- The Local Resilience Forum is set up to be able to respond to concurrent issues. For example, during the recent flooding a Tactical Coordinating Group was stood up to manage the risk whist another Tactical Coordinating Group was running for Covid-19
- All partner agencies have Business Continuity plans in place as required under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004
- A GCC Business Continuity Management cell has been set up to make sure critical services continue to function and details of non essential staff are known
- The work that many staff are doing is already changing to support this urgent situation and ensure that we are able to support our most vulnerable residents. Over the coming days and weeks, we will be redeploying staff to support critical activities. Much of this will be to staff advice lines, keeping communication channels open and other support roles, to free up qualified and specialist workers to undertake the work that only they are able to do
• UK Notice of Marriage appointments and Civil Partnerships – due to capacity issues no bookings will be taken unless the Marriage/Civil Partnership is within a three month period.
• Individual & group Citizenship Ceremonies are continuing, attendees are being advised not to bring guests.
• Birth and Death registration appointments –no more than two people should attend
• Re-Registration appointments and Correction appointments have ceased with immediate effect (unless there is an exceptional reason)
• Call volumes into the Registration service are high
The council’s Information Management Service (IMS) has put in place a temporary process to capture any new use of personal data that takes place during the pandemic. IMS has developed a simple Impact Assessment comprising for service areas to complete and return to IMS. After the emergency IMS can then consult these assessments and return to the relevant service area and support them in ensuring that GDPR is complied with and data erased where necessary.
· The county council’s integrated Transport Unit have been in contact with bus operators who are experiencing significant falls in income from fares and coach bookings, with the priority being both to maintain access to essential services now and to safeguard transport provision for all communities in the long term. The frequency of some services has been reduced to help manage costs
· Restrictions on concessionary travel passes have been removed
Community support and the Community Help Hub
- Gloucestershire’s councils and partners have created a community help hub to connect local people who need help, with others who can provide the support they need. To date there has been: 543 offers of help from individuals, 44 businesses offering help, 46 requests for help and 11 requests to help a neighbour. Please do continue to promote the hub in your local area: https://www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/covid-19/
This group will be coordinating offers of community support and requests for help. The Portal is hosted on the county council’s, with information being fed through to the relevant district council to follow up. The county council is collating information on community led volunteer groups and changes to business as usual across the county so that the situation can be mapped and gaps identified where resources may need to be mobilised.
Support for Those Without Internet Access
Many providers and VCS organisations are transferring their support to phone services. For example:
· Age UK are launching a new Freephone service for older people who want someone to talk to. Staff and existing approved volunteers will be used to make a phone call to those who feel isolated, lonely or need some human interaction.
· GL11 in Dursley have set up a central phone line which is staffed by GL11, to answer queries, offers upport, mop up people falling through the gaps, triage and refer to other services, and are also available for community volunteer queries.
· Cotswold Friends in the North Cotswolds have spoken to all clients and volunteers to pub in place telephone befriending and shopping services where needed. Befriending volunteers are switching to telephone visits. Over 2000 people have been contacted, coordinated and supported and over the next weeks and months this number will grow
· Schools are currently managing demand for places from key workers. However, it is important that other options to care for young people are considered to ensure schools can remain resilient
· Communication has gone out to schools from the education department clarifying the Government guidance
· We have set up an email address and phone number to assist parents with any queries
· Adult Education classroom-based provision will cease from today and the same for our subcontractors. Both direct delivery and subcontractors are seeking to continue and extend online and distance learning provision but this is limited, given the nature of some of our customers
· Commercial Road is closed for classroom-based learning sessions for adult education and social work academy provision. We are exploring the implications of offering Commercial Road as a venue for childcare for key workers
· Announcement on Friday (20 March)that some business and venues will close from Saturday 21 March to promote social distancing. These include: cafes, restaurants, pubs, entertainment venues, museums, spas, casinos and betting shops, gyms and leisure centres. Local authorities will be responsible forenforcing these regulations.
· Stay at home guidancefor households
· Social distancing now in multiple languages
· All of the above information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
· The Department for Education has set up a helpline offering guidance for anyone with education related questions
· General NHS advice can be found at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
The NHS in Gloucestershire is taking responsible steps to plan ahead and respond to the unfolding Covid-19 situation. Here is a link to the latest information from the NHS on service advice and developments: NHS update