Agenda item

Update from COVID-19 Member Led Local Outbreak Control Board


Reasons for the Decision – To consider an update from the COVID-19 Member led Local Outbreak Control Board including:


·       With the Omicron variant spreading fast, Covid infections in Staffordshire were at very high levels, with cases in all age groups. This was causing substantial pressure on health and care services due to Covid related hospitalisations on top of usual seasonal illness, as well as staff absences on top of long-term recruitment and retention difficulties.


·       Vaccination remained the best way to reduce complications and deaths from Covid and was even more important in the face of the Omicron variant. The intention nationally was to offer all adults a booster as well as children over 12 two doses by the end of January 2022. The Council would continue to support the NHS to accelerate the vaccination programme.


·       HM Government had announced a 3-month extension of Targeted Community Testing (TCT) until 31 March 2022 to support the holistic test, trace, isolate and vaccinate approach required for Winter Plan B and Omicron response.  In Staffordshire, TCT had been provided by Nexxus Trading Services Ltd (Nexxus) who had the experience, skills, and infrastructure to be able to continue to provide TCT effectively. It was therefore recommended that the contract with Nexxus be extended until 31st March 2022.


·       Care providers had been particularly hard hit by the pandemic and had faced challenges to maintain enhanced standards of infection prevention and control, test clients and staff, and in recent months to recruit and retain their workforce. Government had provided a series of one-off grants to support care providers, which had been distributed via local authorities.  On 17 and 29 December, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) announced two further grants and had asked local authorities to use both grants as quickly as possible. Funding could be given to providers to support their own initiatives or spent by local authorities on schemes to help all providers. Both grants must be used by 31/03/22, with any unused funds returned to DHSC.


·       Under the Workforce Recruitment and Retention Fund Round 2, the Council was to receive a total of £4,427,456 in two instalments in January 2022 and February 2022. The funding was contingent on submitting an assurance statement to DHSC by 21 January 2022. The purpose of the grant was to recruit and retain sufficient staff over winter, and support growth and sustain existing workforce capacity.


·       Details of the Infection and Prevention Control Fund further round had not yet been published by DHSC. Funding totals £60m in England with Staffordshire’s allocation expected to be c£900k. Grant conditions were expected to be similar to previous rounds of funding. Proposals for the expenditure of these grants were consistent with grant conditions and were a combination of funding to providers and schemes delivered by the Council. The proposals were largely an extension of allocations under the Workforce Recruitment and Retention Fund Round 1 and Infection and Prevention Control Fund previous rounds.


Decision – (a) That the update from the Covid Member Led Local Outbreak Control Board be noted.


(b) That the extension of the contract with Nexxus Trading Services Ltd (Nexxus) until 31 March 2022 to provide Targeted Community Testing (TCT) in line with the Government’s requirement to sustain and extend this programme, be approved.


(c) That the proposals for expenditure of the Workforce Recruitment & Retention Round 2 and Infection Control Fund further round grants to care providers, be approved.

Supporting documents: