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Calls For East Riding To Be 'Assertive' On Covid-19 Guidance

Calls For East Riding To Be 'Assertive' On Covid-19 Guidance

Published by Local Democracy Reporter Joe Gerrard at 6:58am 16th July 2020. (Updated at 6:21am 20th July 2020)

East Riding Council should be more assertive in using local knowledge instead of government guidelines to respond to a potential second wave of coronavirus, a cabinet member has said.

Cllr Vanessa Walker told councillors on the Health and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee it had been difficult to act on some government guidance throughout the pandemic.

The adult and carer services portfolio holder said local knowledge on the scale of outbreaks and infections had been more useful than national guidance in some cases.

A Department for Health spokesperson said the right guidance had been brought in at the right time and had always been based on the latest scientific evidence.

Public health, NHS and council officials also said rapidly changing government guidance had had to be interpreted before information was passed onto other professionals and bodies.

Councillors were discussing updates on coronavirus and preparations the NHS and Public Health bodies are making for seasonal flu and a potential second wave ahead of winter.

Cllr Walker said the council could “constructively challenge” government guidelines in the event of a second wave.

Cllr Walker said:

“If we have a second wave I’d like to see us building on our work with partners and challenge a bit of what government is saying.

Local knowledge was a far more powerful tool in some cases than what we were getting from government.

We need to learn what’s been good about government guidance and what’s been less helpful and having a bit of defiance in some cases.”

Cllr Walker said co-operation between different arms of the NHS, council and Public Health bodies had helped to stave off the worst of the pandemic.

Cllr Walker said:

“The strength of our partnership working is probably why we haven’t had the bad experience other areas have.”

John Skidmore, the council’s director of adults, health and customer services, said cross body relationships built up before the pandemic had paid dividends when it hit.

The director added those relationships meant the council and health bodies could act ahead of government guidance.

Mr Skidmore said:

“We’ve been investing in building those relationships for many years.

Local NHS Trusts offered us testing in care homes before government did because they had the spare capacity. We were able to offer them additional PPE in return.

Anything I asked for we got. That shows how we’ve been able to work together.”

The council’s Head of Business Management and Commissioning Yvonne Rhodes said guidance had proved challenging.

Ms Rhodes said:

“Communication was a real challenge. Sometimes guidance was changing twice a day.”

A Department for Health spokesperson said the fact coronavirus had been brought under control showed how effective government guidance had been.

The spokesperson said:

“Throughout this unprecedented global pandemic we have brought in the right measures at the right time, based on the most up-to-date scientific advice.

We have seen a high level of compliance with the public health guidance and social distancing, demonstrated by how the spread of this virus has now been brought under control.”

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Walker said she would be willing to be more assertive on government guidance if a second wave occurs.

Cllr Walker said:

“I think there’s things we can do better at a local level.

For instance with the discharging of patients into care homes, I wouldn’t want to just empty our hospitals if the government told us to.

As a representative of my residents I would want to be more assertive and I’d stick my neck out on that.”

Officials also called on residents to get behind the coronavirus test and trace system to stop further outbreaks ahead of winter.

Officials from local Public Health teams, the NHS and East Riding Council said the test and trace system would be the best way of stopping the virus spreading.

Tracey Craggs, an assistant director at the NHS’s East Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said preparations for the busy winter period had been underway for the last six weeks.

Ms Craggs said:

“The possibility of a second wave is at the forefront of our minds. Coronavirus hasn’t gone away.

We’re preparing for winter as normal but with coronavirus in mind. We’re going to have less capacity with social distancing measures in place.

Staff will have to wear PPE and they’ll be delays in getting to see patients because rooms and theatres will need to be thoroughly cleaned between appointments.”

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