Agenda item

COVID 19 Update

To receive verbal updates from the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust and North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust.



The Committee received very similar updates from representatives of both University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay and North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trusts. 


Members were informed that during January and March 2021 Morecambe Bay had 200 positive COVID cases in their hospitals and all elective surgery had been cancelled.  It was explained that during March and April 2021 the number of cases for both Trusts had reduced and elective recovery had begun as part of the accelerator programme.


The Committee was informed that overall in the south the Trust was running 110% for elective care and was focussing on Westmorland General Hospital as a Green Elective Care Site.  Officers confirmed that all pre?pandemic screening was being undertaken as well COVID testing prior to surgery.


It was explained that cancer treatment data had shown an improvement and figures were close to pre?pandemic with ‘long?waiter’ patient numbers reducing by almost 100 per week. 


A discussion took place regarding the return of public transport in the area and any effects this had for patients.  Officers confirmed they were not experiencing any problems for patients accessing services with regards to travel.


Members discussed virtual consultations for patients which had taken place during the pandemic; it was confirmed that whilst they would remain there would always be the option for patients to request face to face appointments but highlighted the potential delays in appointments which this could cause.  It was explained work was being undertaken to focus on improving remote appointments where necessary.


The Chief Executive of Healthwatch informed members that they had undertaken a survey on remote appointments and the results had shown that a mixed economy was probably the right approach.  It was agreed that the research data would be circulated to the Committee.


The Committee was informed that more recently there had been a significant rise in cases with patients currently in hospital with COVID.  It was explained that a number of the patients had been admitted to hospital with separate conditions but had tested positive for COVID. 


Officers from both the north and south drew attention to the number of patients who had stayed away from hospital during the pandemic which had resulted in a deterioration in their health and, therefore, led to more complex conditions.  It was highlighted that although deaths due to COVID were still being experienced they had significantly reduced since the start of the pandemic.  Officers agreed to provide data regarding the age profile.


Members were informed that hospitals in the south currently had 100% occupancy and whilst noting that plans were in place to expand the bed space noted the problems regarding funding. 


Officers explained the impact on services in both the north and south because of a reduction in the workforce due to COVID or isolation.  The risks regarding workforce absence was highlighted noting that an emergency response plan had been initiated to focus on safe staffing levels. 


The Committee was informed that currently accident and emergency departments, primary care and North West Ambulance Service were experiencing record levels of patients and were exceptionally busy. 


The Chief Operating Officer for North Cumbria CCG explained that referrals during May and June for mental health services had been exceptionally high with an impact on services due to COVID isolation.  It was explained that a short?term non?permanent operational change may be required and the Committee would be kept updated on this matter.


A discussion took place regarding the vaccination programme and members were informed that 87.5-90% of employees from both Trusts had received both vaccinations with approximately 68% of the population as a whole receiving them.  Officers confirmed that the vaccination provided good protection against COVID and long?COVID whilst acknowledging this was not 100%.


Members raised their concerns regarding the number of people who, for various reasons, had not received a vaccination. It was explained that the CCGs were leading on a vaccination programme to encourage individuals to receive the vaccination.  During the course of discussion, whilst officers acknowledged the challenges around equity and inequalities, they emphasised that the rate of vaccination take-up was exceptionally high in Cumbria.  Officers explained that  the local media had supported the vaccination programme.  It was agreed that North Cumbria CCG would circulate a link to their website which provided comparator vaccination levels.


The Committee expressed their thanks and appreciation to all individuals who had been involved in the vaccination programme.