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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Zoom meeting

Contact: Sharon Davis  Scrutiny Manager

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No. Item



Members are asked to declare any interests in the items under consideration and in doing so state:


(1) the type of interest concerned either a


(a)   personal interest

(b)   prejudicial interest

(c)    disclosable pecuniary interest (DPI)




(2) the nature of the interest concerned


If any member requires advice on declarations of interests, they are advised to contact the Head of Democratic Governance in advance of the meeting.


Councillor Hugo declared a personal interest in Item 4 ‘Homelessness – Covid-19 Response’, the nature of the interest that she worked for the charity Streetlife.


Councillor Mitchell declared a personal interest in Item 2 ‘ Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care System – System Response to Covid-19 Emergency’, the nature of the interest that he was a Governor at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.



To provide an overview of the response to the pandemic by the Integrated Care System (ICS).

Additional documents:


Dr Amanda Doyle, Chief Officer, Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care System (ICS) advised that she had been the lead for the out of hospital cell response to Covid-19, with Peter Murphy, Director of Nursing, Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust responsible for the in hospital cell response. As part of the out of hospital response, there had been a move to a digital first primary care service in order to isolate and treat covid positive patients. Community capacity had also been increased and support provided to NHS England in order to improve tracking and carry out testing.


Dr Doyle referred to the ‘Test and Adjust’ report which had asked a range of questions to gather the views of local partners and staff to the covid response. Most feedback had been positive and the response of staff to the pandemic was praised. She added that messaging to the public as the pandemic moved into phases two and three must be clear to mitigate risks of a potential second wave of infections. There was particular concern that a second wave could coincide with winter which was already a busy time for the NHS.


During the pandemic, many operations and forms of treatment had been put on hold which had resulted in significant waiting lists. Due to increased infection control requirements such as social distancing, there would be a reduced capacity in hospitals to allow spacing of patients; and procedures would take more time due to the application of personal protective equipment (PPE). The challenges had been identified and work was ongoing to plan and mobilise services including a large flu vaccination programme and the possibility that a vaccine for covid would be delivered in the winter.


Mr Kevin McGee, Chief Executive, Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust commended the partnership and cross system work both inside and outside of the NHS and highlighted the focussed step up of capacity in the hospital at the start of the pandemic. Capacity had been significantly increased in critical care and at the peak of the crisis there remained free beds in the unit. He noted the national problems with acquirement of PPE and confirmed that there had been no issues at Blackpool Victoria Hospital due to local organisations working together to secure the necessary equipment.


In relation to future planning, Mr McGee highlighted concerns relating to the physical and mental impact on staff across the ICS and the impact of a second wave of infection during the winter on their wellbeing. He added that preparations were ongoing for winter and managing capacity with the added complications of seasonal flu and pneumonia.


Mr Peter Murphy reported that there were currently 10 patients with covid in Blackpool Victoria Hospital (BVH). There had been 220 deaths in the hospital of patients with confirmed covid and 461 patients had recovered in hospital and been discharged. Mortality rates at BVH were significantly better than other hospitals nationally. Mr Murphy cited the team work of staff and problem solving that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 2.



At members’ request to provide a general overview but with a focus on care homes, impact of Covid-19 on vulnerable residents and how the Council has provided support.


Ms Karen Smith, Director of Adult Services advised that the primary aim of services during the pandemic was to ensure the safety of both patients and staff. The response to the crisis had been a partnership and the Council had played a significant role in the Lancashire Resilience Forum alongside Lancashire County Council, Blackburn with Darwen Council and NHS colleagues amongst others.


A key function of the service had been to provide support to social care providers to prevent and manage outbreaks. Residents of care homes had been identified as at risk at an early stage and financial and practical support had been given to care homes in order to manage and mitigate the risks. Support hubs had been established and staff had been redeployed where necessary with an emergency workforce funded when required. There had been early dialogue with social care colleagues from Europe which had supported early action. In response to questions, Ms Smith advised that there was no indication that Brexit would prevent continued dialogue and that the social work network had not been organised by the European Union.


In relation to care homes, the Council had guaranteed a minimum baseline payment to providers to ensure their sustainability and had provided an immediate 10% uplift to payments which had been matched by the Clinical Commissioning Group. The Government’s infection prevention fund had been passed to care homes and had equated to approximately £500 per head to be spent on allowable measures.


It was noted that full sick pay was not common in the care sector and providers had been supported to pay full sick pay for periods of isolation due to covid in order to ensure there was an incentive to remain off work to prevent further infections. The work of the sector and staff was commended during the outbreak.


With regards to personal protective equipment (PPE), it was noted that equipment had been sourced and supplied to the sector for the whole of Lancashire in bulk to improve buying power when it had been difficult to procure items. At no point during the pandemic had care homes been without the required PPE or a suitable and approved alternative.


Infections remained low at settings currently and many care homes had retained their non covid status. The majority of cases diagnosed were now asymptomatic and discovered through regular testing. There were currently nine confirmed cases within five settings and Ms Smith highlighted the positive impact of the support and advice provided by Public Health in Blackpool directly to care homes. Emphasis was now being placed on ensuring staff were informed of the importance of maintaining social distancing and hygiene outside of work.


In regards to those on the shielded list, many had not required assistance when approached, and it was noted that advice to shield was being removed from the end of July. Lists of those needing to shield would be maintained in order to prepare for a possible second wave and the need to shield again. In  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.



To provide an overview and understanding of the Council’s response to Covid-19, in respect of homelessness.


Ms Vikki Piper, Acting Head of Housing advised that a multi-agency approach had been taken to ensuring that homeless people were housed and safe during the crisis. Services had been rapidly stepped up in order to provide practical homeless support. There were currently 129 individuals in temporary accommodation which had reduced from approximately 200 during the busiest period. There were 33 people housed within six bed and breakfasts in the town. She added that there were currently two rough sleepers, both of whom were new rough sleepers and had not been supported through the pandemic. However, the numbers in all cases changed every day.


There were a number of ongoing issues for consideration including that the ban on evictions would soon be removed, the changes required when entering phase two of the pandemic and the detail of the Government funding recently announced. With regard to the latter, it was noted that the funding was focussed on provision of short term accommodation when in Blackpool it would be preferable to focus on long term funding to provide stable homes and communities.


Ms Piper cited the recent Office of National Statistics publication into the number of homeless deaths of covid during the pandemic and noted that there had been 16 nationwide, three in the north west of England. It was important to learn from experiences during the pandemic and ensure the positives could be continued moving forward.


In response to questions, Ms Piper clarified that there had been 885 approaches for advice and assistance. Of these, there were approximately 400 cases requiring provision of accommodation and 25 had been families/individuals who had been returned to their own local authority area. There had been a smaller number of those presenting from outside of the area during the pandemic, partly due to the lockdown arrangements in place and hotels being closed preventing people from arriving with nowhere to stay.


Members noted that there had been difficulties in ensuring social distancing amongst homeless residents temporarily accommodated in bed and breakfasts and queried why the virus had not spread further amongst this community. Dr Arif Rajpura, Director of Public Health advised that the virus had particularly discriminated against those aged over 70. There had been some community spread within Blackpool, however, community transmission had declined substantially in the town. There could be a degree of luck in the minimal transfer in the homeless population, however, Dr Rajpura also highlighted that measures had been put in place to protect the most vulnerable including isolating those with symptoms. He added that relationships with homeless residents had been developed quickly and it was important to not return to the same service provision and interaction prior to the pandemic. A long term plan was required to make sure the right support was in place moving forward.


The Committee queried the overall cost of the provision and Ms Piper estimated it to be approximately £300,000 to date.


Members recognised the excellent partnership work and queried whether anything would be done differently  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.