To consider a briefing from the Chief Operating Officer, Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group.
The Committee considered a report and received a presentation by the Chief Officer, Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (DCCG), on the NHS response to Covid-19.
The Chief Officer paid tribute to the voluntary sector and public partners who had helped the NHS over recent months and to those who had lost loved ones to Covid-19, including NHS colleagues.
The presentation set out how all the agencies in Dorset had worked together to respond to the crisis; preparations for any surge and changes to services; operating requirements and measures taken; recruitment and redeployment of staff and associated resources; the financial response; concerns; mental health services impact; phase 2 to bring services back on line; and public engagement.
Such a collective effort across the NHS and all partners had never been seen before and there were lessons which could be learned from this. The first phase was coming to an end and residents now had to live with Covid-19 on a daily basis. With the easing of restrictions there was a real possibility of a second surge.
Members asked a number of questions including how the non-medical beds in hotels in Sherborne and Weymouth were funded, whether nightingale hospitals could have been used better to provide beds for those leaving hospital before returning to care homes, the NHS funding gap, whether the system had enough resilience to deal with a surge in demand for services coinciding with a second peak, future support for community pharmacists and workforce issues.
In response it was explained that:-
· Dorset Council would bill the DCCG for the hotels and the DCCG would then bill the national Covid-19 fund;
· nightingale hospitals had been established for critical care which had not been needed and they had now been adapted for different uses;
· costs for months 1-4 of the Covid crisis were being covered but it was not yet known what arrangements would be put in place for month 5 onwards;
· Dorset's three acute hospitals were working together to ensure there were plans to address any second spike, but capacity was limited because of social distancing and infection control;
· NHS services had become more innovative, with an increase in people taking advantage of the digital offer, and Trusts were working collaboratively with primary care to plan for any surges;
· as many specialists had been unable to treat patients, hospital waiting lists had grown. The most urgent cases were being prioritised by clinicians. This was the same across the whole country;
· work on wrap around care to deliver a safe service was underway and the voluntary sector had stepped up to support medication delivery. There had been a shortage of some medication but this had been resolved. The system was now better prepared for a second spike;
· the workforce was paramount in delivering a safe and sustainable service. If staff were off sick then this complicated the ability to run services or additional beds. Staff sickness was monitored, was reducing, and staff were returning to work. Many staff had undertaken different roles across Dorset's hospital trusts in order to address need.
The Chairman thanked officers for their presentation and responses to questions. On behalf of both Committees, she thanked all NHS staff and volunteers who had helped during the crisis.