Agenda item - Winter Planning

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Agenda item

Winter Planning

Report of the Executive Lead, Strategy, Governance & Law (copy attached)


17.1    This item was introduced by Katy Jackson, Director of Urgent Care & Systems Resilience, Central Sussex & East Surrey Commissioning Alliance-South; and Jayne Black, Chief Operating Officer, Brighton & Sussex University Hospitals Trust (BSUH). Ms Jackson outlined winter planning for 2019-20


17.2    Cllr Grimshaw noted that her aunt had been in the Royal Sussex County Hospital (RSCH) over the Easter period and that things had been chaotic, particularly in terms of out of hours availability of social workers. She was unconvinced that RSCH was able to cope effectively with demand in holiday periods. In response Ms Black told members that the local health and care system is working together to ensure that holiday periods are adequately staffed. This is about staff across the whole system not just RSCH.


17.3    In response to a question from Cllr O’Quinn on supplies of the flu vaccine, Ms Jackson informed members that the vaccine is released in batches, with GP practices only able to order a certain amount at any one time. It is consequently important that practice communication with patients is aligned with vaccine availability (i.e. by staggering vaccination appointments to tally with the arrival of supplies). It is vital that people at risk get vaccinated and that health and care system staff do also.


17.4    In answer to a query from Cllr O’Quinn on the retention of ambulance paramedics by South East Coast Ambulance NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb), Ms Jackson told the committee that this is an issue, particularly as there is increasing demand for paramedics from non-ambulance providers – e.g. to work in GP practices. SECAmb is focusing more on supporting its paramedics through professional development with the aim of improving retention. Colin Vincent suggested that this was an issue that should be taken up with SECAmb and the Chair agreed that this will be discussed with the Trust when they next appear before the HOSC.


17.5    In response to a question from Cllr Druitt on funding, Ms Jackson confirmed that there was more money being invested in winter resilience than in previous years. There has been no reduction in funding for community rehabilitation, with a number of additional bed spaces purchased.


17.6    In reply to a question from Cllr McNair on use of NHS 999 and 111 Services and on phone booking appointments at the Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC), Ms Jackson told members that members of the public do generally understand the purpose of the 111 number, but that many people choose to ignore it and present directly for treatment at A&E. More communication is planned about the appropriate use of 111 and 999, but changing behaviour is difficult. UTC phone booking should come on-line in early 2020 as planned.


17.7    In response to a query from Cllr McNair on severe weather planning, Ms Jackson confirmed that the NHS is working closely with the city council to plan for possible severe weather events. There is already good partnership working across many areas, including the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) shelter, the use of volunteer 4x4s in icy weather, support for care homes and services for frail elderly people.


17.8    In answer to a question from Cllr Lewry on the 18 week target, Ms Black confirmed that this is the Referral To Treatment (RTT) target for planned procedures. BSUH is challenged on meeting this target and on cancer care targets, but the intention is to meet winter demand pressures without further impacting on performance against RTT and cancer waits (e.g. by not using elective beds for emergency patients which could mean postponing planned operations). Fran McCabe noted that she was concerned about the system’s ability to maintain elective performance, and Ms Black agreed that this will be challenging given the existence of a bed gap at RSCH. However, this is partly the reason for the purchase of additional community beds.


17.9    In response to a suggestion from Ms McCabe to develop an app offering real-time information on waiting times for emergency care, Ms Jackson told members that an app was an interesting idea, but it would require accurate, regularly updated information from the relevant departments which might prove challenging. The 111 Directory of Services (DOS) is already updated to reflect how busy city emergency services are. Ms Black added that there are also regular updates on facebook and twitter.


17.10  RESOLVED – that the report be noted.


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