An organisation increasingly busy with non-COVID activity was reflected in reports to the Dumfries and Galloway NHS Board on Monday.
However, while departments are occupied with services not directly linked with the coronavirus, the constant risk posed by the coronavirus and its impact on how services are able to operate was a recurring theme.
Chief Operating Officer Julie White described a system ‘heating up again’ from an unscheduled care perspective, with a continuing increase in Emergency Department attendances.
Chief Executive Jeff Ace noted that prior to COVID this was not a system which was comfortably balancing supply and demand. He added that challenges resulting from physical distancing and use of PPE had further impacted on productivity, and described a backlog in Scotland for people awaiting appointments which would take some time to address.
Discussion took place at Board around governance arrangements for care homes during the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Ace noted the large amount of work which has been carried out, and that the Scottish Government has indicated a positive perspective on that performance.
Julie White highlighted that issues addressed since May 17 include infection control, needs of residents being met, visiting arrangements, testing on staff and residents, PPE provision and arrangements and staffing requirements within each of the care homes. She noted two new temporary secondments of a senior nurse and senior social worker to work with care homes and Care Home Oversight Group, and that with 100 per cent of care homes run by the third or independent sector this work represented a real achievement in terms of relationships with care homes.
The Board agreed the Participation Requests and Community Asset Transfer – Annual Report 2019/20. Corporate Business Manager Laura Geddes noted a national strategy and process had been in development, but that a local approach, potentially combining with the local authority, was now being taken forward – subject to change if a national strategy comes into effect. The Board also agreed to look at formalising a strategy to engage with communities.
The annual report on feedback, comments, concerns and complaints revealed an increase in Care Opinion compliments and complaints which was consistent with other Boards. It was recognised in the report that there is room for improvement with compliance on timescale around complaints responses. It was also noted that Participation and Engagement Network activity planned over the summer was postponed due to COVID-19.
The financial report set out an underlying overspend in the financial position, but that this was to be expected as the year began with a projected deficit. Director of Finance Katy Lewis reported that no in-year allocation has yet been received, other than the base year allocation.