The Northamptonshire Local Resilience Forum (LRF) has set up a Strategic Co-ordinating Group in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The group is a multi-agency, multi-disciplinary team that works closely with incident co-ordination centres set up across the county by partner agencies including health, social care, local authorities and emergency responders, as well as working with partners in the voluntary, charity and private sector.

The role of the Strategic Co-ordinating Group is to co-ordinate the public sector response across the county in order to protect the public and save lives.

Toby Sanders, Chief Executive of the Northamptonshire CCGs and Chair of the Strategic Co-ordinating Group said: “This is obviously an unprecedented situation and a very challenging time for everyone. We are working closely with partners and incident centres to ensure resources are in the right places, at the right time. We want to be as ready as possible for the expected progression of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“At our last Strategic Co-ordinating Group, we focussed on three particular key areas.”

These are:

  • To support public messaging and encourage people to take responsibility and follow the guidance and advice to help reduce the spread of infection and protect the vulnerable.
  • To free up the maximum possible number of inpatient and critical care beds to prepare for an anticipated increase of hospital patients due to Coronavirus.
  • To create local council run hubs to co-ordinate the volunteer and community efforts to better support the vulnerable and those self-isolating.

Lucy Wightman, Director of Public Health Northamptonshire, said: “The national focus is now on delaying the spread of the virus as much as possible and protecting the most vulnerable people in our communities. All agencies are working together to achieve this.

“Those who remain well, are under 70 or do not have an underlying health condition are advised to limit their social contact where possible, including using less public transport, working at home and considering not going to pubs, restaurants, theatres and bars.

“The Government is also advising those who are over 70, have an underlying health condition or are pregnant, against these activities and to significantly limit face-to-face interaction with friends and family if possible.

“We are currently working through plans to ensure these groups, many of whom we recognise may already be isolated or live in rural locations, can remain healthy and feel supported while they are at home.”

In relation to freeing up as many hospital beds as possible, NHS England asked that hospitals urgently discharge all hospital in-patients who are medically fit to leave. So within Northamptonshire we are working closely with multi agency colleagues from health and social care, Kettering General Hospital and Northampton General Hospital to support the transfer of a number of patients out of KGH and NGH, either to home or into alternative provision.

Patients who are well enough to be transferred, either to other care providers, or to be cared for at home will now begin to be moved out of acute hospitals as part of a phased programme.

Toby Sanders, explained: “We are responding to a fast moving, fluid situation and have to move quickly to free up the maximum possible number of hospital inpatient and critical care beds to be ready for the expected progression of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Health and social care colleagues are working closely together to ensure a fast and safe transfer of these patients. We are only moving people who are well enough to be transferred out of an acute hospital either into another care setting or back home.

“Over the coming days the hospital discharge teams will be contacting affected patients, carers and relatives as appropriate to advise them of their transfer plans.

“All agencies are doing all they can to protect and care for the most vulnerable in the county and to lessen the spread of the disease, and we are calling on the public to do their part in the effort to tackle the virus.”