Together We're Better COVID-19 Stakeholder Update

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15 March 2021

Together We're Better COVID-19 Stakeholder Update

More than 76,000 positive tests for COVID-19 have been recorded in the year since the first case was confirmed in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire.

A total of 18,935 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Stoke-on-Trent since the first positive test was announced 12 months ago and in the wider county, an additional 57,279 positive cases have been confirmed.

As of Monday 8 March, we took our first tentative steps out of lockdown in England with all children returning to school, being able to meet up with one friend for a coffee on a bench and to visit relatives in care settings.  

Testing is now more important than ever as we creep back into social normality again. There are Regional Testing Centres, Mobile Testing Units and Local Testing Centres across the county and city, all offering PCR tests for anyone with symptoms. There’s also the Community Testing Sites that offer the lateral flow tests for people without symptoms.  

As we begin to be ‘out and about’ more, taking children to and from school, going for the weekly food shop or even visiting a relative in care, we should all try to get into a routine of getting tested once or twice a week. This will keep the rates of transmission on their current downward trajectory, because whilst they are moving in the right direction again, they are still much higher than we’d like and far higher than the rates were last summer.  

It’s also really important to remember that, even though some of you may have received the first vaccine, you can still catch COVID-19, be asymptomatic and can even still pass it on to family and loved ones.

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

COVID-19 still remains a serious threat and the importance of sticking to the rules of hands, face, space and getting tested regularly increases as more freedoms return. The roadmap to normality could be short-lived if these rules are ignored.

The NHS Test and Trace system aims to control the spread of COVID-19, by ensuring that people can be tested when necessary. The system then identifies close contacts of people who have tested positive and asks these contacts to self-isolate.

The government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) has recommended that at least 80% of close contacts of positive cases must be reached for the system to be effective.

The NHS Test and Trace team continue to be responsible for Contact Tracing across the whole of England. Staffordshire County Council and Stoke-on-Trent City Council enhance this national programme by also contacting people who have tested positive for coronavirus and:

  • Identifying and providing support that may be needed to maintain isolation, such as help with food or caring responsibilities
  • Identifying the possible source of the infection so that common themes can be identified quickly and measures put in place to reduce transmission
  • Ensuring that all possible contacts have been identified and updating both our own and the national Test and Trace system when new contacts are identified

For Staffordshire, in the seven day time period up to 5 March: 

  • 830 new cases tested positive for Coronavirus, 772 of which Staffordshire has spoken to and verified isolation (93%)
  • NHS Test & Trace had failed to contact 78 of these cases. 50 of which Staffordshire has managed to locate, inform and verify isolation (64%)
  • 1,573 close contacts have been identified and contacted to also verify isolation (98% of the total close contacts identified)

For Stoke-on-Trent, in the seven day time period up to 5 March:

  • 318 cases were received and allocated by the Contact Tracing Team and the council successfully contacted 269 of those, representation a success rate of 85%
  • For the same week, there were 28 cases from the national team and 16 of those were successfully contacted, representing a success rate of just over 75%
  • Where contact tracers cannot contact a positive case, the City Council refers those people to COVID-19 Stewards to visit them. There has been a success rate of 90% contact to provide advice to self-isolate and give advice, following these visits from the Stewards.

Other news...

Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent CCGs have been awarded funding to pilot a Community Keyworking programme for children and young people who are autistic, have a learning disability or both. 

The CCGs are keen that the support offered reflects the needs of these children, young people and families, and as the new support role will focus on those most at risk of an unplanned visit to hospital, this is the cohort of children and young people we particularly want to hear from.  We recognise that parents may want or need to support their children/young people to engage, however we really want to hear the voice of the child and/or young person coming through loud and clear.

SCVYS has been approached to manage this engagement and after a period of development it is now ready to launch.  We are currently seeking delivery partners and have invited 24 local partners across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent to consider an incentive scheme to enable them to support any children and young people in their current participant cohort to engage, if they feel unable to complete the survey independently.

We are collecting responses via a short online survey which should take no longer than 15-20 minutes to complete. Participants are also able to request a phone or video call if this improves their accessibility to the consultation from either SCVYS, or a partner organisation to enable them to complete the survey.  There is a bit more information available via the link, so feel free to take a look to see if any questions you may have are answered there.

The survey link will be open until Sunday 18 April 2021and then SCVYS will compile the responses and report back to the CCGs, local authority representatives and health partners. We are hopeful that some participants may wish to be part of the recruitment process too. When the report has been received and digested, we will produce a "You said, We Did" summary which will be sent back to all who are interested in hearing the difference their views have made in shaping the proposed Keyworker role.

We would be grateful if you can raise awareness of and promote this engagement in whichever ways are most appropriate to you including potentially by sending it:

  • directly to those who are autistic, have a learning disability or both;
  • to those who are currently on the Dynamic Support Register - i.e those considered to be most at risk of an unplanned hospital visit;
  • directly to those who are in or have recently required Tier 4 support or;
  • to support teams and/or partner organisations who are working with this cohort through ongoing existing provision.

Stroke strikes every five minutes in the UK – and can change lives in an instant. Yet the pandemic has seen a significant fall in stroke admissions and 1,413 excess deaths from stroke between 21 March 2020 and 22 January 2021 (7% higher than expected). Public Health England in partnership with NHS England and NHS Improvement has relaunched the national “Act F.A.S.T.” stroke campaign which you may have seen recently on the television. The campaign is designed to inform the public about the signs of a stroke and to encourage people who recognise any single one of the symptoms of stroke, in themselves or others, to call 999 immediately. The campaign is running until early May. The campaign is built around the ‘Act F.A.S.T.’  (Face, Arms, Speech, Time) acronym to emphasise the importance of acting quickly by calling 999:

  • Face – has their face fallen on one side? Can they smile?
  • Arms – can they raise both arms and keep them there?
  • Speech – is their speech slurred?
  • Time to call 999

Campaign resources can be downloaded now from the PHE Campaign Resource Centre.

Useful Resources...

New easy read resources:

New social media campaign to target false vaccine information:

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has launched a new social media campaign to tackle false vaccine information online. A toolkit with content designed to be shared via Whatsapp and Facebook community groups, as well as Twitter, Youtube and Instagram, to tackle false information has also been created.

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.

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.