To receive verbal updates from the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust and North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group.
The Committee received similar updates regarding the Impact of the COVID 19 pandemic from representatives of both University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay (UHMBT) and North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group (NCCCG).
Members received details of COVID cases throughout the county and were informed that Cumbria had been substantially higher than the national average but this had diminished and stabilised over the last few weeks, noting that although deaths had not been eradicated they had significantly reduced.
The Committee raised concerns regarding the statistics for the Allerdale area. Whilst officers acknowledged the concerns they highlighted the large geographical area and explained this had not been consistent throughout the pandemic explaining that the latest increase was due to school aged children.
The Committee was informed of the challenges regarding estates in the south of the county. Officers explained a reconfiguration had taken place which had ensured that the Westmorland General Hospital had remained COVID free and, therefore, cancer treatment and elective surgery had taken place during the pandemic.
Officers emphasised the significant pressures which were being experienced by all services across the whole of the county. It was explained that UHMBT was currently at its highest state of escalation alert with daily meetings taking place to look at pathways for patients.
The Committee, whilst acknowledging the continued support of the workforce, raised concerns regarding the situation in hospitals in the south of the county and future issues which could ensue during the winter months, asking what measures could be taken to alleviate the situation.
Members were informed that a number of steps were being undertaken which included commissioning additional community beds with staff being relocated to care homes to provide support, promotion of the flu, COVID and COVID booster vaccinations, campaign by social care for the recruitment of staff and implementation of systems within the community to prevent hospital admissions. Officers highlighted the significant planning which was being undertaken with regards to resources and beds for the winter and it was agreed the winter plan would form part of this update at the next meeting of the Committee.
A discussion took place regarding the workforce and officers explained that the immediate challenges around workforce included the social care sector and welcomed any support which the Committee could offer.
Members were informed that in the north of the county whilst services were still available it was anticipated waiting times would be longer. It was explained that measures which were put in place during COVID such as remote consultations and telephone triage would continue to try and alleviate the backlog.
The Committee received a positive update on vaccination uptake in north Cumbria noting that this was higher than the national average. Members were informed that the COVID vaccination programme would now be rolled out to 12-15 years.
Members highlighted the introduction of Vaccine Champions; officers welcomed this and encouraged the Committee to promote the vaccination. It was agreed that information regarding vaccinations would be circulated to members as it became available.
A discussion took place regarding the finance needed for the additional resources required to deal with the pressures. Officers confirmed there was a continuation of funds for elective care and it was anticipated there would be additional resources for the winter challenges.
A concern was raised regarding the lack of care packages on the discharge of patients which resulted in re?admission to hospital, together with insufficient responses received following complaints. Officers acknowledged the concerns raised and explained that currently there was no capacity in the system to provide a package of care, highlighting the national challenges in social care. The Chief Executive, Healthwatch Cumbria explained that People First currently held the contract for the NHS Complaints Service and offered their help and support.
A discussion took place regarding the role of the Integrated Care Communities (ICCs) and members asked how they could play a role in the current situation, with concerns raised regarding their lack of communication Officers acknowledged the importance of ICCs at local level, highlighting it was never intended that they would provide a focal point for communication. It was explained that this was a challenge for the NHS to ensure they were open and transparent with their communications.
Members were informed that ICCs and Primary Care Networks had been very pro?active during the roll out of the vaccination programme which had helped to alleviate the anxiety of the public.
The Committee drew attention to the impact of the pandemic on mental health. Officers confirmed there had been a rise in mental health issues during the summer with a significant increase of new referrals from children and young people. It was explained there was additional community investment being made to Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service, crisis teams and mental health school support services.
During the course of discussion members were updated on two new wards, mainly single bays, at the Royal Lancaster Hospital and the Committee was offered a future site visit.
(1) the update be noted;
(2) UHMBT include their Winter Plan as part of the update on the impact of the pandemic.