MESSAGE FROM WARWICKSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL
COVID-19 levels are now on the rise within the UK and indeed across many areas of the world. Coventry and Warwickshire have now begun to report their first cases. Whilst it is important to feel reassured that the UK is very well prepared for more cases of COVID-19, we can all be taking action and following steps as outlined in Public Health England’s helpful guide ‘5 things you can do to protect yourself and your community’. The first of these is to “wash your hands regularly and catch coughs and sneezes in a tissue”.
We are liaising closely with Public Health England to ensure the right messages are disseminated to staff and partners and there is up to date information available on the staff intranet. Please also have a look at the gov.uk website for additional information which is updated daily and includes any advice for returning travellers and the public in general at this time.
The NHS 111 service continues to take many calls around COVID-19 concerns, but please note there is also a helpful and easy to use online advice service too. Further, a new national Department for Education Helpline has been established to answer questions about COVID-19 related to education. Staff, parents and young people can contact the helpline as follows:
Phone: 0800 046 8687
As the Chief Medical Officer for England has stated, NHS services nationally are likely to come under intense pressure as COVID-19 (coronavirus) spreads.
Therefore, in line with national guidance and well-established plans for situations like this, every hospital in England has been asked to suspend all elective (non-urgent) operations from 15 April 2020 for at least three months. with some other procedures likely to be rescheduled before then.
At Oxford University Hospitals we will be:
- postponing all routine outpatient appointments for adults and children on all of our hospital sites – but we are exploring the possibility of ‘ virtual clinics ‘ and telephone consultations for outpatients
- also postponing all routine inpatient elective surgery for adults and children on all of our hospital sites
- maintaining as normal at present urgent and emergency cases and cancer treatments.
These measures are necessary so that our staff can prioritise the care of the sickest patients and maintain safe patient care during this unprecedented time for the NHS both locally and nationally.
We appreciate how frustrating this will be for patients affected and we would like to apologise. We know many people waiting for treatment will be disappointed or worried, and we will be contacting everyone affected as soon as possible.
We have not taken this decision lightly and would like to reassure our patients that we are taking all necessary steps to try to keep any disruption to an absolute minimum.
We will contact patients as soon as we are able to reschedule both inpatient elective surgery and outpatient elective appointments – patients will be rescheduled according to clinical need and length of wait.
At this time we are unable to estimate when this will be the case, although it will be at least three months depending on national guidance from NHS England.
Joint letter from the Church of England bishops
Since my last update things have moved on again and I am sure you have heard by now that the Archbishops and bishops in the Church of England have issues a joint statement saying that all churches must close, even for private prayer. Their letter (link below) makes it clear that:
- Our church buildings are closed for public worship and for private prayer.
- Emergency baptisms can take place in hospital or at home, though subject to strict hygienic precautions and physical distancing as far as possible.
- There can be no weddings in church buildings until further notice.
- Funerals can only happen at the Crematorium or at the graveside. Only immediate family members can attend (if the crematorium allows) – that is, spouse or partner, parents and children, keeping their distance in the prescribed way.
- Foodbanks should continue where possible under strict guidelines
The full letter can be read here…
I was speaking to Richard Cooke last night in a video conference and he said that the last time that churches in England were closed without any form of service was during the General Interdict on England from 1208 to 1214. During the reign of King John, England was placed under papal interdict and no services, marriages, baptisms, etc were allowed in churches for that 6 year period. So 806 years of continuous service since then isn’t bad
Supporting our most vulnerable residents
As part of a county-wide effort to support the most vulnerable, Warwickshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service along with other services will be working to deliver care and food packages to those most in need.
No direct contact will be made with residents, as this will be a knock-door service, and all staff will maintain the social distances advised, to ensure they can deliver an essential service to those who can’t get out. As well as delivering food and essential requirements, our staff will also ensure that resident are safe, well and managing ok.
In addition, the Warwickshire local welfare scheme helps our most vulnerable residents at times of unavoidable crisis such as this, when they have no other means of help. The scheme provides basic and essential help for food and energy. This is given either in emergency food parcels or with credit for energy. For more information and details on how to apply visit: https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/localwelfarescheme