Council considers COVID-19 response

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The Council’s response to the pandemic will be considered during a special Adults Health and Social Care Scrutiny Board meeting on 29 October 2020.

The Scrutiny Board will review how organisations in the health and care sector, including the Council, have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The board will hear evidence from a range of Council services and health providers and the purpose of the session is to focus on the response to health and care needs in the initial phase of the pandemic.

The key objectives of the review will be a ‘stock take’ of the response of the health and care system to the pandemic, as well as seeking assurances that winter plans are in place and robust enough to respond to what is anticipated to be a very challenging six months.

The ‘Rapid Review of the System Response to the Pandemic’ Scrutiny session will assist in identifying any areas for improvement and future opportunities to support Calderdale’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and what this means for Calderdale communities.

Following the session, the Adults Health and Social Care Scrutiny Board will meet to determine any recommendations, which will be published in a report made available to the public.

Calderdale Council’s Chair of the Adults Health and Scrutiny Board, Cllr Howard Blagbrough, said:

“This year has been one of the most challenging in Calderdale’s history and it’s important we acknowledge the hard work and dedication of all agencies in the continued response to COVID-19.

“This detailed review will allow members of the Scrutiny Board to focus on the work of the Council and health providers and I welcome the opportunity to hear from and work with partners as part of this significant review.

“We look forward to taking a comprehensive look at how the response to the pandemic has impacted people in Calderdale and how things should be done in the future.”

The coronavirus crisis began in the UK in February 2020, just as Calderdale’s communities were recovering from the devastating flooding caused by Storm Ciara.

As the likely severity of the pandemic became clear the Council launched its ten-point plan to define how it would respond and the local authority then immediately moved to a full emergency response.

Ahead of the national lockdown more than 1000 office-based Council staff began working from home to reduce the potential spread of the virus.

The Council immediately prioritised the most vulnerable groups within Calderdale’s communities and put measures in place to protect them by:

  • establishing volunteering and social care hubs to provide community support for those who need it most;
  • commissioning extra services to help avoid the dangers of infection within care homes and set up local testing for residents and staff, having recognised early the increased risk to care home residents;
  • supporting those who were asked to shield by making sure their needs were being met;
  • co-ordinating voluntary and community support;
  • working hard to ensure adequate supplies of PPE for care workers and front-line staff;
  • supporting schools throughout the borough as they began to re-open and
  • developing local contact tracing to support the national programme.

The coronavirus has not just had a significant impact on local communities, it continues to bring budget pressures on the Council through:

  • the huge and direct costs of the additional services to support individuals and communities;
  • the loss of income from services that could not operate, from parking income to leisure services;
  • both short and long term reductions in Council Tax and business rate income;
  • difficulties in delivering planned savings in other areas of the Council to balance the books and
  • the higher long term costs for providing COVID-19 secure services due to the need for social distancing, smaller user numbers in buildings etc.

Although lockdown eased across the UK in late spring, Calderdale became an Area of Intervention on 30 July 2020 and remains under increased restrictions.

Leader of Calderdale Council, Cllr Tim Swift said:

“Seven months since the beginning of the national lockdown it’s right that we take stock, review what we have done and look ahead at what more is needed.

“We recognised from the start that this is a long-term challenge for our community, with no quick ‘return to normal’.

“As the Winter approaches, we’ve sadly seen case numbers rise again.  We’re doing all we can to prepare, with our partners across the health and care sector, for what is likely to be an incredibly busy time.  We’re anticipating that there will be severe pressure across all our services.

“We will continue to call on the Government for an effective test and trace system, as we risk increased restrictions without this in place. We understand that it is very difficult for people with a low income or who are self-employed to self isolate and we will continue to support them as much as we can.

“Communicating with the public remains an essential part of our response and we will continue to promote the basic and consistent public health messages which we know reduce the spread of the virus – hand washing, respiratory hygiene, reducing the time we spend with other people and social distancing.

“And we will continue to lead Calderdale as a place that will take a prudent, evidence-led approach to keeping our communities safe.”

The Adults Health and Social Care Scrutiny Board: Rapid Review of the System Response to the Pandemic will take place virtually from 4pm – 8pm on Thursday 29 October and can be viewed via the Council’s YouTube channel.


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