Together We're Better COVID-19 Stakeholder Update

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8 March 2021

Together We're Better COVID-19 Stakeholder Update

Today we see the start of Boris Johnson’s ‘Roadmap’ out of lockdown, with children returning to face-to-face education in schools, with childcare and other supervised children’s activities also starting to resume. From today, care home residents will also be allowed one regular visitor - providing they are regularly tested and wear personal protective equipment (PPE). However, the national ‘stay at home’ message still remains, but people can now leave their homes for recreational activity outdoors with their household, support bubble or with one other person from another household.

A big topic in the news last week was Chancellor Rishi Sunak delivering his Budget 2021 statement, unveiling crucial plans to help the UK recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Lots of people will have been affected by the pandemic, including businesses, big and small. We’re seeing locally that community testing isn’t being utilised to its full potential and we know that, for some people, the thought of having to isolate and potentially lose income when they cannot go to work is extremely worrying. However, you may be entitled to a one-off payment of £500 through the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme to help tide you over during self-isolation. You can find out if you’re eligible here and can apply for the payment here.

In terms of cases, there are currently more new cases in East Staffordshire than anywhere else in Staffordshire and fewer people are getting tested. This means the virus can spread and therefore more local people are at risk of losing their lives. You can book a test if you have no symptoms here.

We should all be getting tested at least weekly now – it’s quick and easy to do and you’ll get your results in less than 30 minutes. One in three people with COVID-19 don’t have any symptoms at all. Could you be spreading it without knowing? Please make sure you’re doing your bit to reduce the spread by getting tested regularly.

Staffordshire County Council will be working with system partners to focus resources on driving rates down in the borough and workplaces will be encouraged to take up the offer of Lateral Flow Testing for their employees.

With schools reopening from today, it is important to mention that the Government announced that households with primary school, secondary school and college age children, including childcare and support bubbles, will be able to test themselves for COVID-19 twice a week at home. Lateral flow tests can be ordered here.

Last week it was announced that people who are aged 55 and over can now book their COVID-19 vaccine appointment, this can be done online here or by calling 119.

Matt Hancock announced that we’ve reached the milestone of more than 20 million people in the UK getting vaccinated against COVID-19. Whilst here in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent our vaccination figure has surpassed the 400,000 mark and that’s something to be celebrated. We’re almost at the half-way point for our population and that’s been achieved in a phenomenal space of time.   Allied with the news about the effectiveness of one jab of both vaccines on hospital admissions, particularly in the over 80s where we’ve seen them drop by over 80% in the last few weeks, and we really begin to see the impact they are having in the real world.

The pace and the scale of the vaccine roll out has been extraordinary, with a huge thank you to everyone who has been involved. This has not gone unnoticed nationally, even to the extent that we merited a visit from Prime Minster Boris Johnson. He visited Tunstall’s COVID-19 Vaccination Centre last Monday and thanked the staff and volunteers for their hard work and dedication throughout the pandemic and congratulated us on the progress of our vaccination programme.

The vaccination programme is a real partnership effort and the leading role of our GP practices in particular has been significant. GP practices working in Primary Care Networks (PCNs) through local vaccination services (LVS) have delivered 77% of all jabs to date.

You can read more local COVID-19 news in the COVID-19 vaccination bulletin.

We are starting to see a consistent downward trend in the infection rates as the impact of lockdown takes hold, but the vaccination programme continues to gather momentum. Nationally, rates are continuing to come down across the country and overall England has fallen to 69 cases per 100,000, although there does seem to be a north/south divide. The West Midlands region has a rate or 89.3 per 100,000 population.

In terms of the percentage decrease, we are seeing significant decreases in the South of the country whilst there has been a slight plateauing of the percentage decrease in the Midlands and North. 

The seven-day average across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent is clearly moving in the right direction, even with variations between the different areas. The latest seven-day case rates see Staffordshire at 87.3 per 100,000 and in Stoke-on-Trent the latest average is 110 per 100,000.

It’s great that we are seeing these figures finally coming down again, but it’s important we don’t become complacent and continue to do what we can and follow all the guidance to bring the rates down even further.

Other news...

Public asked to share their views on the future of health commissioning in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent

Currently, six clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) work across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent plan and buy health services for their local communities, led by GPs. With the agreement of GP practices, the CCGs are considering whether to apply to NHS England to form a Single Commissioning Organisation for Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.

In the next step, the CCGs are now talking to patients and the public about how they feel they may be impacted by the development of a Single Commissioning Organisation. An online survey is open from Monday 22 February to Sunday 14 March 2021 to gather their views.

Please help promote this survey through your networks and communications channels so that as many people as possible have the opportunity to share their thoughts.

GP practices will continue to work in local networks to inform decisions and services, based on local needs. The six CCGs have already done work to involve their Governing Bodies, and the 147 member GP practices.

Following this period of public engagement, a paper will be presented to the CCG Governing Bodies in Common meeting at the end of March. If agreed, an application will be made to NHS England with the intention of the single CCG to be in place from 1 April 2022.

Useful Resources...

Further social media materials to support the recently announced ‘roadmap’ for exiting the COVID restrictions have been released, which include:

  • Posters and information about surge testing, workplace testing, details of UK ports of entry and exit, plus information for university students; A range of assets to target key behaviours and to promote the core message 'Hands. Face. Space' can be downloaded from the PHE Campaign Resource Centre. 

Campaign materials added to the Campaign Resource Centre:

Links to the latest hard-hitting Stay at Home “Look into their eyes” creative and resources to support those who are delivering surge testing for new variants and those delivering community testing can also be found on the PHE Campaign Resource Centre. You can also find links below to some BBC content for South Asian communities.

National lockdown restriction resources can be found here.

Materials are available for the following campaigns; please can we ask for your help to promote them across your networks:

British Sign Language resources:,-posters-and-resources

Other COVID-19 resources:

  • Public Health England (PHE) guidance for everyone to help reduce the risk of catching COVID-19 and passing it on to others.

For the latest information on COVID-19, please visit the NHS and government websites.