The impact of the coronavirus pandemic in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent has prompted the county’s public and emergency services to declare a major incident.
Staffordshire Resilience Forum (SRF) is made up of multiple agencies who work together to plan and prepare for localised incidents and civil emergencies.
The members of the SRF have agreed to declare the coronavirus a major incident in response to the unprecedented demand for multi-agency activity, which is beyond the scope of business-as-usual operations and in recognition of the level-4 incident declared by the NHS.
The focus of the SRF is to work together to prioritise the continued delivery of essential services, to support people who are most affected and to seek to preserve life and minimise the impact of the coronavirus on our local communities and businesses.
Dr Richard Harling, the Director for Health and Care at Staffordshire County Council is chairing the Strategic Coordinating Group, which is overseeing the multi-agency response.
He said: “Everyone is now aware that we are facing a unique challenge, with the Government addressing the nation on a daily basis.
“Declaring a Major Incident now is a way of making sure all public sector agencies and our partners can work together, share resources where necessary, and better anticipate and deal with challenges.
“It is something we prepare for and practice regularly. It does not confer any special powers or change the roles of the different organisations involved.
“This is a sensible step as we know from other countries that dealing with Coronavirus/COVID-19 is going to take time and persistence.
“Pooling resources is important because we know we will face challenges, particularly the likelihood that more staff will be self-isolating in the coming weeks and that will strain resources. We will be better able to do things jointly, such as and informing people in relation to any particular localised issues.
“Working together is something that we do all the time in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent and the action we are now taking is simply aimed at making that process even more joined-up.”
“It is important that people continue following the advice from Public Health England and the Government.”
People should stay at home to help stop the spread of coronavirus and help protect their NHS. You should only leave the house for 1 of 4 reasons.
- shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible
- one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household
- any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
- travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home.
If you're at high risk of getting seriously ill from coronavirus, there are extra things you should do to avoid catching it.
- stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact for at least 12 weeks – you should not go out to do shopping, pick up medicine or exercise
- stay at least 2 metres (3 steps) away from other people in your home as much as possible
- Ask friends, family or neighbours to pick up shopping and medicines for you. They should leave them outside your door.
If you need help getting deliveries of essential supplies like food, you can register to get coronavirus support
Direct contact is being made with around 1.5million NHS patients. Throughout the week, people identified from their medical records as being at highest risk (and who need to strictly follow this guidance) will receive a letter from their GP or hospital team with advice and information about what to do during this time and how to access support. Text messages will also be sent out during the week, reiterating the advice and signposting to sources of support.
If someone feels they are high risk, but have not received a letter by 30 March, they should contact their GP or hospital team.
The NHS is “rallying the troops” for the war on coronavirus, with volunteers being called up to help vulnerable people stay safe and well at home.
People can become an NHS Volunteer Responder and join the NHS’s trusted list of volunteers by visiting goodsamapp.org/NHS and adding their details to the NHS section.