COVID-19 Response

Stockport Council - Let's Talk - Living with Covid-19 in Stockport

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June 30, 2020
Cllr Jude Wells, Cabinet Member for Adult Care and Health for Stockport Council, and Jen Connolly, Acting Director of Public Health, sit down for a (virtual) Q&A with Nick Statham from Manchester Evening News, answering questions on all sorts of coronavirus-related topics.


An accessible transcript is available below.

Timestamps:


00:00 Introductions

00:30 Re-opening Businesses

03:37 2 Metres or "One Metre Plus"

05:08 ONS Figures for Bredbury Green

07:17 Coronavirus Support Hub

10:35 Potential Second Wave

20:25 Localised Lockdown

21:18 Test and Trace

24:52 Mental Health and Wellbeing

29:52 Schools Returning

33:00 Learning from Outbreaks including Meat Processing Factories

35:02 Questions from the Public

35:11 "Living with Covid-19"

36:37 New Cases

38:40 Stepping Hill Hospital

43:39 Conclusions

46:29 Goodbyes


Transcript:


Nick Statham: I’m Nick Statham, Local Democracy reporter covering Stockport, based at Manchester Evening News.

Cllr Jude Wells: I’m Councillor Jude Wells, I’m Cabinet Member at Stockport Council for Adult Care and Health.

Jen Connolly: Hi, I’m Jen Connolly. I’m the Acting Director of Public Health Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council.

 

Nick Statham: The independent SAGE group led by Sir David King believes it is too early to scrap the two-meter rule indoors.

With pubs, restaurants and hairdressers’ salons due to reopen from July 4, do you feel comfortable backing the government’s message that it is now safe for residents to begin using these businesses again, or would you urge extra caution?  Additionally, do you have any specific advice for those who have been shielding or are clinically vulnerable on account of underlying health conditions such as asthma?

Jen Connolly: So, firstly I think it’s really important to remember that the guidance is still that people should be remaining two metres apart wherever possible. The balance of risk on that one is determined nationally and whilst we’ve got this virus circulating it’s important to remember that it is spread though droplets, so we want people to maintain that distance wherever possible. On the balance of risk now that the number of infections in the community has come down somewhat that risk is obviously slightly less than it was at a previous time, so you can understand why that balance is being looked at. I think it’s just really important to remember to keep to that two metres wherever possible and that once metre is with additional mitigation. So, use of a face covering, sitting side by side or back to back rather than face to face, and other measures like that. It’s just remembering that it’s not just one metre, it really is two metres wherever possible.

Cllr Wells: In terms of the support for business, we have a really strong campaign around One Stockport messaging and a lot of the teams have been working really closely with the business community to work with them through all the procedures and regulations around safe distancing and supporting them to reopen safely. Public Health have been really strong in terms of supporting that communication and we’ll continue to do that through time. We are working really hard to work through that and hopefully by the 4th July that will all be in situ so we can robustly support the businesses to open safely. As Jen says, it’s up to the good folk of Stockport to work with us in terms of observing that and being safe. Staying alert is the key message and following the rules around mitigation and wearing masks where recommended. So, certainly that’s where we’re putting a lot of effort in to supporting the business community because we want them to reopen safely and we want our economy to start to thrive again.

 

Nick Statham: The second part of the question that we touched on with it being ‘one metre plus mitigation’.

Do you think the messaging around that has been clear and does the council have any plans to reinforce the need for mitigation – reinforce that message via a poster and/or social media campaign, for example?

Jen Connolly: Yes, that’s absolutely the intention and you’ll start to see it already through the One Stockport campaign. It’s about safely reopening, and we’ve got floor stickers about keeping that physical distance. We’ve got that message going out already and we’ll continue to push and promote that.

Cllr Wells: I’ll just add, obviously people can have a look at the One Stockport website which has been soft-launched and if people are out and about in their local shops, they will see the One Stockport sign and branding on some of the shops that are now starting to use those. There are certainly road signs where we’ve got that key messaging and we are working really closely with the district centre teams to actually deliver that message. Very much at a neighbourhood level because the key thing for us in Stockport is working with our local communities and neighbourhoods to support that strong messaging in a specific community because that’s the way that we will get agreements and compliance in terms of that collaborative and collective approach to working together to support each other.

Jen Connolly: It’s also helpful for people to remember that the distancing doesn’t just matter where the signs are, it’s something we all need to be responsible for and remember at all times how important that is.

Nick Statham: Recent figures from the ONS show that Bredbury Green suffered the highest number of coronavirus-related deaths between March and May, followed by Brinnington, Davenport and Adswood. Does the council have any further insight or understanding or insight into why this was the case, and what is it doing to reassure people in these areas they are safe, as lockdown measures are significantly relaxed?

Cllr Wells: One thing I would say is that there are particular features with our demographic in terms of where our care homes are located in neighbourhoods. We have some large care homes in particular neighbourhoods across Stockport and sadly we know that there have been a significant number of deaths in that vulnerable adults’ group, because of the nature of people living very close together.

Jen Connolly: With all of this it’s really important to remember that it’s been a tragic loss and my heart goes out to those people who’ve had a loss through this period. Deaths are one piece of the puzzle in terms of the information that we need to understand the spread and the impact of Covid. We also look at the number of new cases, the rates of positivity of number of tests being done and how many of those are coming back positive. We look at the hospital admissions. We’ve got to factor in when we’re thinking about differences of populations. What we’re now starting to understand more clearly about Covid is the differential impact that we’re seeing in different communities and people with underlying risk factors, different occupational groups, understanding the spread across a locality where people are living and what kind of work they’re doing and, very importantly as Cllr Wells said, our care homes with some of our most vulnerable residents where these are located in the Borough as well as other settings. So, there is an awful lot of underlying information and factors that go into explaining any numbers that you see about the presence or the impact of the disease.

 

Nick Statham: Many people will be celebrating the return of pubs, restaurants, cinemas etc from July 4, following the recent reopening of non-essential retail.

But the more vulnerable may be less confident about returning to ‘normal’ and will not want to go shopping or have visitors to their homes. How long can they expect support from the council’s coronavirus response hub, in terms of food parcels, medication deliveries etc?

 

Cllr Wells: We’ve had a really robust response to Coronavirus.  Very early on we set up the helpline, we created community hubs and we’ve worked really closely with the neighbourhood mutual aid groups to help support the vulnerable adults and also those people on the shielded list. The Coronavirus helpline will continue, obviously with the hours reduced but basically we will continue that. We now know that the residents that we need to put that extra support into, we have no plans to withdraw that support and we’re working really closely with our community groups around the food banks and food parcels, prescriptions and shopping visits. We’ve had a fantastic response from local businesses and our supermarkets about priority shopping and that will continue for residents. That helpline is there to help and reassure our shielded residents to feel confident enough to come back into the community because this is a big step for people. People have been shielded for 14+ weeks and it is a big decision for people to move back. We hope that we can help them through the mutual aid groups, through our locally based neighbourhood services to really feel confident that they’re supported to start living again in the community of which they will be very welcome and we are putting that extra ring of care around them to help that happen in a really supportive way.

Jen Connolly: I think, to understand as well, the helpline is going to become really important now moving into this next phase of contact tracing. As part of that, people will be asked to isolate for two weeks if been in close contact of someone who has confirmed as a case of Coronavirus. We really want people to do that and it’s a big ask. Everyone’s been under lockdown for 14 weeks and now we’re asking you to do two weeks of isolation when you’re feeling perfectly well, probably at least at the outset. We know that’s a big ask. That is isolation and not popping to the shops or going out for your daily walk. The Coronavirus helpline hub offer is going to be really important ad we’ll continue that to help people to ensure that they do that isolation because it’s vital to breaking the chain of transmission as we go forward. So, the phone number for the helpline is 0161 217 6046, and you can access that online as well.

 

Nick Statham: Great, thanks for that. How well is Stockport prepared for a second wave, or spike, of coronavirus over the autumn or winter period - and what are the most important lessons the council has learned from the first wave? 

Would care homes be protected?

How would Stockport deal with a local outbreak and does the council know how a local lockdown work? Is there a plan for locking down Stockport/part of Stockport or is the council waiting on government guidance?

Jen Connolly: So, I think this is a really important question Nick. As we move forward, we’ve still got this virus in circulation that we don’t have a vaccine for. That would be one of the key public health measures that we would want if we had it to our fingertips. We don’t have a significant treatment as yet. There are good steps being made there but we don’t have something that completely reduces that morbidity, so we still have to implement these public health measures. Whilst we’re coming out of that full lockdown, we have to keep those other measures in place. That looks like contact tracing and outbreak management. The first and biggest step that we can all take in that is staying isolated if we become symptomatic. So just as a reminder, the three key symptoms that you are looking out for are a temperature, or a cough, or loss of smell or taste. It’s any of those things. We are at a stage where we want people to have quite a high degree of suspicion and become quite proactive at this stage. Any of those symptoms, no matter how mild, please stay at home and isolate and order yourself a test. You can book to have a test at nhs.uk/coronavirus. If you want to get a test arranged in Stockport you can email us at testing@stockport.gov.uk or if you don’t have access to the web and email you can ring 119 to book to book a test. So, people immediately isolating, even if you start to feel unwell in the middle of the day at work, go home and isolate at that point and book the test. That’s the biggest step we can all take to take the virus out of circulation.

At that point, if you then test positive, you’ll be contacted by NHS Test and Trace and asked for some further information about where you’ve been in the last couple of days and that information will then inform NHS Test and Trace about who your close contacts are and those close contacts will then be contacted and they will be asked to isolate for two weeks. Those people are being asked to isolate because of the incubation period of the virus. That’s the time when you might have contracted it, but you’re not actually showing any symptoms at that point. So, we’re asking people to isolate to ensure that they’re out of circulation, should they then go on to develop symptoms. So that’s a really key step as we move forward. So that’s isolating if you’re unwell, social distancing two metres and keeping your distance wherever you can, and the other one is the hand washing. A colleague said “we need to get back to when all our hands were red raw from all the hand washing we were doing”, and I absolutely agree with that. It’s remembering to wash your hands thoroughly and regularly when you’re out and about and coming in and out of the house, before eating, and getting away from touching our faces again. So, remembering those key things are the really vital measures and steps that we can all be taking.

You talked a little bit about what we’ve learned, and we’ve learned an awful lot is the short answer. We’ve really seen in Stockport the benefit of working across the system. When I say system I don’t just mean the public sector or organisations. That’s working really closely with our voluntary sector, our community organisations, our residents are really well engaged. So, a huge thanks to everybody who has been involved in that. Thinking ahead for the winter and what we can all be doing, we’ve learnt more and more about this virus and what those underlying risk factors add to them becoming really unwell with Coronavirus so we would really encourage anybody who is perhaps thinking of making a lifestyle change to get in touch with our START service. That’s available through healthystockport.co.uk or you can ring 0161 474 3141 because we know everybody does better with a little bit of help making those changes. Things like diabetes, high blood pressure, being a bit overweight. We are seeing they are the underlying risk factors that put you a little bit more at risk, so making changes to those things is really important now. Also thinking ahead to the winter, we know flu season hits us from September onwards so we’ve putting in an awful lot of planning to how we’re going to deliver flu vaccinations for everybody, and I really encourage anybody who is eligible for their flu vaccination to make sure you get it this year. We’ll be making it available in a socially distanced manner so you can get that out and about as you would normally. We don’t want that to be a factor for anybody not getting their flu jab. So, I really encourage people to take some of those preventative steps that they can to boost their underlying levels of health.

Cllr Wells: Obviously, from very day one of the lockdown we were very clear that we needed to put intensive support into the care homes given the vulnerability of the residents living in there, so we worked very closely as a system with partners and with the care homes staff and managers to build a very robust offer to support the management of the infection. The Health Protection Team were in there daily, advising on PPE and appropriate self-isolation for residents. The system responded very rapidly and robustly. We were given additional funding at the end of May to help the infection control in the care settings. That was an area that was causing a national concern at that point in time so that 3.1 million was paid directly to the care homes by the end of May to basically help around staffing levels and ensuring that staff who needed to self-isolate could be supported on full pay. For the issues around staff working across homes, that was a big issue in terms of the prevention of spreading the virus.  That has been one of the key issues for us, making sure the care homes are getting that funding to support the staff and to help manage the infection control in the homes.

Certainly, going forward we’ve got an exceptionally strong relationship with the system, health partners, and voluntary sector groups, as Jen said. We’ve had some really positive feedback from NHSE about our infection control plan with the sector in terms of the use of technology around using tablets for people living in care homes to connect with their relatives and that tele-medicine offer that we worked with MasterCall on. The other bit that they were very clear about was the good practice guidance which we were in collaboration with the care homes to deliver. Whilst not being complacent, there has been some fantastic working at pace to work to protect the care sector in Stockport. Obviously working with the home care providers who are a key part of our partnership. What I would say going forward is that there are certainly lessons learnt around response, how we help homes to manage isolation and that whole system approach to supporting people because one of the things we need to be clear about is that people’s health care needs are being met when they are living in residential units as well. It’s a credit to the whole partnership that we’ve worked so well collaboratively to respond at pace and got the resources out and underpinned the market in terms of the vulnerability around funding in Stockport because we’ve guaranteed occupancy rates and that will continue for a good period of time. So, I would say that our response has been really robust and a really collaborative approach to the sector.

 

Nick Statham: Have you got any idea of how a generalised lockdown for Stockport or part of Stockport would work?

Jen Connolly: I think everybody is still waiting on a bit more detail on how that general community lockdown might work but I think the key thing to remember is that’s the last resort really. We really want to be operating from that perspective of educating, empowering and encouraging, rather than enforcing. Hence working proactively with our settings, our communities where we know there might be a bit more risk and trying to get the messages out there in advance. We want to avoid the use of powers in terms of a local lockdown. It really would be the last resort.

 

Nick Statham: How well is testing, tracking and tracing working in Stockport (do you have any figures)?

A recent report in the Guardian says that ‘more than a month after being promised full details of who has caught the disease in their area local health chiefs are still desperately lobbying the government’s testing chief’ to share data with them.

Do you need a function test and trace app for it to work properly?

Jen Connolly: Yep, so there’s a lot of points in that question. A lot of the contact tracing is done by the national team. So, as soon as somebody tests positive they will be contacted by the national team as we spoke about previously, that’s NHS Test and Trace, and then they will work through a risk assessment to understand who their contacts are. If they or any of their contacts are working in a more complex setting or working in a school or with a particularly vulnerable cohort of people or anything like that, then the local system will be notified. For us that means the Greater Manchester Integrated Contact Tracing Hub. That’s been up and running for a few weeks now and is working really well building on our Public Health North West systems and using colleagues across the system.

So, we will often also hear about issues and cases first, through the local relationships that we have, through the networks that we have, and we really want that to be the case in many circumstances.  We want to hear about these things. We don’t want people to feel worried or anxious about letting us know if they’ve got a case in a setting. We want to hear about these things so we can support to get infection prevention control advice and actions in place to minimise the impact if any issues are arising. In terms of how things are working, we’ve got really good relationships with GM Hub and we are getting regular exchange of information and it’s just encouraging people to remember what they need to do if they become symptomatic or if they are contacted by the NHS Test and Trace programme which is to isolate and follow the advice that they are given. In terms of access to data, that’s improving week on week and we really support the commitment through the joint biosecurity centre to provide us with local level detailed case by case information. So, we really support that commitment and would welcome that as soon as possible.

Nick Statham: How important is it that we get a functional app rolled out? I know it’s more of a national thing, but how important is that going to be?

Well we’ve never had a contact and trace app previously and we’ve worked well in terms of contact tracing for other infectious diseases so it’s certainly not something we’ve been reliant on. You can see other countries have used those really successfully so maybe there is something to be learned but its definitely not been the thing we’ve been waiting for. We’ve been getting on with the local system and the traditional methods of contact tracing and relying on those really.

 

Nick Statham: Twelve weeks of lockdown are going to have a big impact on people’s mental health, particularly those who have been isolated from their support networks, lost their jobs or livelihoods or been driven into debt. Another concern is those who have been trapped with an abusive partner or family member over the last twelve weeks or longer.

How will the council support the mental health fall-out from this crisis and could the huge financial strain it under?

Jen Connolly: What you have highlighted is so important, Nick. We’ve all been through something huge haven’t we? It’s been a trauma for everybody and if you’re feeling uncomfortable or challenged or finding that difficult it’s perfectly normal. Some people have found that even more challenging and they’ve had even more difficult circumstances to contend with so we’ve made a leaflet available to everybody that summarises all of the different support offers. That’s available on stockport.gov.uk/wellbeing-coronavirus and that summarises a real range of mental health support, support with financial challenges, support with relationship challenges, the whole range of things. So there’s an awful lot of different things there and it’s really clear what’s available so we would really encourage everybody to have a look at that because there are a number of things on there. We can really all benefit from a conversation so even if that’s just reaching out to say hi, it can be as much as that sometimes. Connecting with somebody, just picking up the phone and saying hi, opening that conversation and giving people the chance to just off load and being that somebody to listen. You don’t have to take on all of somebody else’s problems but just opening the conversation to say hi. So, having a look at what’s available through the council website and that leaflet that really well summarises everything and also just being that friendly ear.

Cllr Wells: I’ll just talk about the funding element. What we’ve done, as all local governments have done, is stepped up at time we’ve needed to. We’ve pulled out all the stops in terms of funding new services, setting up stuff, creating new delivery models, staff have been redeployed at pace in terms of actually responding to the needs and the fact that emotional well-being and mental health is a big issue for us all anyway, it’s everybody’s business and certainly in this period it’s been incredibly stressful for very many people so we needed to have a very robust response which did mean commissioning new services, redesigning services, building websites and getting them going so that we could have a really robust offer. But the financial envelope which we are working with is really uncertain. Councils have really stepped up and we’re still not clear about the kind of funding. We’ve had a certain level of funding from the government in terms of Covid response but that hasn’t met the needs that we’ve identified and obviously we’ve highlighted the funding gap in terms of what we’ve actually received and what we’re expecting to have to pay out. But that’s not meant that we’ve stopped doing services. We’ve done the right thing at the time that people have needed it. Going forward we are going to have to review our whole financial envelope and we’re going to have to look at things like our statutory duties. We’ve done a lot of services like sourcing PPE which we’ve not done before as Councils and that is something above and beyond what we’ve been doing.  Things like food parcels etc. have all outweighed the Councils standard delivery model. It’s to the credit of local authorities across the country that have responded in a robust and effective way. To basically being a custodian to the local community, with the partners involved in that but as place shapers and place leaders and the Council have done that. The funding issues need resolution. We need some certainty about the future in terms of how we go forwards and I know that’s political, but this is a climate where we want to do the right thing for people and we’ll go later to talk about living with Covid. This is not going away. This is the new normal. How we as a Borough go forward together collectively to work collaboratively to prevent the virus spreading and living well together and that does rely on adequate funding and security of finances.

 

Nick Statham: We’re going to be living with the virus for a while, Chris Whitty said that in a recent briefing. Is the council confident that it will be safe for all children to return to school in September, - given Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty recently says he expects us to be living with this virus well into next year - and what is being done to help schools achieve this?

Jen Connolly: Nothing is certain at this point, is it Nick? But we’ve been working really closely with the schools. They’ve been doing an amazing job. Each and every school has been doing a really thorough risk assessment for their setting because every single one is slightly different. They’ve been following numerous sets of national guidance to help them do that as safely as possible and so they’ve been absolutely inundated with that and the Council has been there to support and to facilitate conversation and help them think through different circumstances. Additionally, more recently we’ve been doing a lot of scenario planning with the schools, so we’ve started developing a kind of standard operating procedure so that everybody’s exactly clear what they’re doing in a range of different circumstance but first and foremost what to do if you identify somebody who is a case within the school. So, we’ve got really good processes in place to give everybody that confidence to know what to do should those circumstances arise. First and foremost, let’s prevent those things from happening so that goes back to all of us doing our bit in trying to reduce that transmission, isolating if you’re unwell, social distancing, increased hand washing.  The settings themselves are doing loads of work to make those settings Covid secure, following the guidance, and doing those risk assessments.  Lots of work has gone into to making those places as safe as possible.

 

Nick Statham: Will schools also have the backing of the authority if circumstances arise whereby they do not feel it is safe to open or they feel they need to close again - such as recently happened in Doncaster after a ‘member of the academic community’ tested positive for Covid-19?

Jen Connolly: We’ve been working with the settings throughout this and we understand the benefits of children being at school so where those risk assessments have been completed and the schools are comfortable with everything being in place, we really want to encourage them to open because it’s great for children to be back at school where possible. We’ll continue to work in that way and support the schools who ultimately have to make those decisions themselves. It’s the decision of the Chair of Governors and the Heads to make, but we will absolutely support their processes and be there to help them with queries and questions and scenarios as they arise.

 

Nick Statham: Meat processing factories have come under the spotlight recently as possible ‘hotspots’ for Covid-19, following outbreaks in Anglesey, Wrexham and West Yorkshire. This appears to be due to the conditions there - cold temperatures and people working closely together while breathing heavily and shouting due to the noisy environment etc. Is the council liaising with meat processing factories - or other workplaces with similar working environments - in a bid to prevent similar outbreaks in the borough of Stockport?

Jen Connolly: Yes, it’s a really important one, Nick. The key point in it all is, what are the underlying risk factors. It’s not just singling out one particular sector and one type of place but looking at what are the common features and how can we apply that across a broader range of settings because we want to be really proactive and understand where those things might arise. So, we’re working through a process to identify what the common features are and where they might apply to settings in Stockport and have proactive conversations with those businesses to see if they want any additional conversation about making their settings Covid secure and understanding what the risk factors look like. Just having those conversations to make sure people are comfortable with what some of those common features are and how they can then do prevention work to minimise the chances of things occurring. There are loads of advice for businesses and lots of different settings and lots of different examples of how businesses can minimise the risk to their employer and patrons. I really encourage people to have a look on the government website, work through their own risk assessments and then having those proactive conversations with the settings to support them with any additional questions.

 

Nick Statham: So are we alright to move on to questions from the public?

Jen Connolly: Yep!

 

Nick Statham: So this is the first part of the question. Where has the concept of learning to live with Covid-19 in Stockport come from? Is this the aim of the Director of Public Health? I would be disappointed if it is. Shouldn't our shared aim be to reduce, as soon as possible, to zero, the number of new COVID-19 infection cases reported each day?

Jen Connolly: I think that would be an absolutely ideal aim to reduce the number of infections wherever possible. Stockport not being an island of its own, we have lots of connections across Greater Manchester and more broadly. I think that’s something that we have to be realistic about and pragmatic about. We do know this virus is in circulation in the community more broadly and that’s coming down, but we need to be vigilant at this stage and we need to find a way to live with it. We don’t have a vaccine and we aren’t in a position where therapeutics are the answer either, so we just have to find a way to minimise our risk at every stage. Again, that’s isolating if you are symptomatic, keeping your social distance and that’s increasing your handwashing and isolating if you are contacted because you’ve been in close contact with somebody. Those are the key measures that we need to put in place to live with Covid at this stage.

 

Nick Statham: The cases in Stockport are extremely low, some days no cases and then a few pop up. Where are they coming from, i.e. inside a hospital, care home or from the community?

Jen Connolly: Yes so that is the case at the moment. We’re finding a few cases a day on average and they can come from a range of settings. It’s important to remember that there is a time lag in that most people will have been infected 4, 5, 6 days or something in that region before they then become symptomatic themselves so it’s not always a straight line. Also as we move forward and see different patterns, to date there’s been this pattern where there’s been this wave across the country and different localities in fairly standard way, we now be seeing more pop ups or little outbreaks or clusters as we move forward in different settings. Those numbers will fluctuate somewhat.

We spoke earlier about the need for that real local level data and that’s something that will really help us understand that picture. Going back to the message around the importance of contact tracing, the real ambition of what we want to see now is for those cases where they do occur, we want them to be already isolated as contacts of other cases. That’s the ambition, the aim. That’s what we are pushing for is to have as many cases crop up who are already isolated, rather than people who didn’t know about people who are linked to other cases. That’s why it’s really important that people are isolating as contacts because then we’re breaking the chance of them spreading it on to other people.

 

Nick Statham: If the Director of Public Health and the Cabinet Member for Adult Care and Health think that the task needing to be tackled is 'learning to live with COVID-19 in Stockport', what perspective do they have for the ability of Stepping Hill returning to the role it should have - as a general hospital? Do they think, with hindsight, that the closure of isolation hospitals, like Cherry Tree and Monsall, was a mistake and, if it was, should they be re-established?

Cllr Wells: I think, what I’d say, is that the hospitals are now impacting the kind of measures they need to manage both the Covid and non Covid hospital. They’ve got hot and cold areas and those are very well regulated, and they have seen an increase in non Covid related admissions recently. So that work is starting at the hospital in terms of routine operations and out-patient appointments. Obviously, I don’t want to speak for the hospital, but I think they would say that the lessons they’ve learned through Covid is to do with the redesigning some of the ways that they support the local community in terms of things like moving to video conferencing and online assessments. That has had real traction in the hospital, and they are very positive about the impact that has in terms of reaching out to support people living with long term conditions and people needing health screening etc.

They are now moving into what is described in the question as a general hospital site again and are delivering those services the confines of issues in terms of guidance and distancing. They’re working really closely with the GM Hub and other hospitals to coordinate that delivery. One of the things we are really conscious of is that a lot of health screening and routine assessments haven’t happened over the last few months and we’re really wanting to encourage people to start going back for appointments when they receive them. There are a number of people who need to be in the health system again and need to trust the health system to deliver again. The hospital is saying, with colleagues of Primary Care, that people are needing to come back and we need to think about the screening services and diagnostics again and assure people that it’s safe to use health services again. That’s one of the key messages that we need to say.

In terms of the isolation hospitals, I wouldn’t comment on those particularly, but would just say that the guidance is people are best to isolate in their own homes if they can because that’s the safest thing possible and that guidance won’t shift. Obviously, people need periods of hospitalisation when that will be appropriate. Obviously, the GM resource was the Nightingale Hospital was built at pace again to deal with issues around the need for increased ICU beds and isolation. I think what that has proven is that the GM system as a partnership is really well resourced and can work again as a collaborative to deliver a coordinated approach when that’s needed. We would ask people to think about those people with diabetes, long-term conditions and COPD, the services are available to them and we would really encourage people to reconnect with the health support that’s out there for them.

Jen Connolly: Absolutely. I really encourage people to use health services appropriately now and the NHS is very much open for business, contact your GP as you would. They’ve put loads of good practice in place around doing remote video consultations and can make it really straight forward and easy for you to do. Screening programmes are getting back up and running and we want people to go for those appointments when they are called, and I really encourage people to use those opportunities.  We know that some of the underlying risk factors for Covid are some of those long-term health conditions that people might be experiencing and do remember that there is plenty of support available to make changes if you need it at healthystockport.co.uk you can get loads of information about those conditions and how to improve your health in that way.

 

Nick Statham: Okay, so is there anything else you’d like to say before we wrap up?

Cllr Wells: Can I just say a thank you, because obviously it’s really important to say a public thank you to all those residents of Stockport whose response to the Covid crisis has been fantastic, people have really come together. What’s been really heartening from my perspective is the way that communities have pulled together. Neighbourhoods are looking after each other. I think that kind of spirit – I’ve not seen in a long time. I’ve lived on the same road for 25 years and it’s the first time I’ve spoken to any my neighbours and that’s replicated all across Stockport. That kind of care for each other has really shone through and that duty and responsibility is something we really should thank residents for. What I’d like to say is offer my condolences to people who’ve lost loved ones during this time, it’s been an incredibly sad period, we have lost people through this crisis, and I would pass my condolences on to those residents who have lost their loved ones. But also the people who are recovering from Covid, because it is a long journey of recovery. And hopefully they feel supported by the system in Stockport, in terms of that recovery. The other thing I’d like to say is it saddens me that people have lost their lives and that we should really pay attention to making our next journey through Covid, living through Covid, with as much care and attention as we’ve done previously to make sure we’re looking after residents really well in Stockport, and I hope that people think that the Council with its partners have done that over the past few months.

Jen Connolly: Thanks. I’d just like to add, I really share Cllr Wells’ message about thanks, and the dedication and hard work that everyone across Stockport has put in so huge thanks in that respect. Just a reminder that as we move forward, this hasn’t gone away, we still need to be vigilant. And while some things are starting to be relaxed, it’s with those measures that we can live as safely as possible as we move forward now. So really remembering: isolate if you become unwell with a fever, a cough, or if you lose your smell or taste, sense of smell or taste. Book a test, keep your distance, keep that 2m wherever possible, wash your hands more frequently, and if you’re contacted by NHS Test and Trace, and asked to isolate because you’ve been in contact with someone, please do so. We know that’s going to be difficult but this is how we move forward safely.

Nick Statham: Thank you, thanks everyone.

Voices overlapping saying goodbye.