On Monday, a virtual meeting of NHS Dumfries and Galloway Board featured updates on the implementation of national directives around COVID-19.
Board members agreed new governance arrangements aimed at restoring some committees as much as is possible within the current coronavirus epidemic. As part of those discussions, it was confirmed that a Public Health Governance Committee will be created.
Discussion took place around strategic planning, with members agreeing the need for NHS Dumfries and Galloway to have its own operational, strategic framework.
NHS Dumfries and Galloway Chief Executive Jeff Ace then provided an update on the approach to COVID-19 in which he identified four main strands of work.
The first of these is the management of COVID-19 cases throughout the various services. Noting that the numbers of COVID patients has been declining, he described this as stable, manageable and one of the most straightforward aspects of current work.
Secondly, Mr Ace noted work to support care homes and pointed to a new national directive received last Monday. This sees NHS Boards taking on new responsibilities in relation to care homes. Mr Ace acknowledged the resources required to support this across the region’s 31 care homes, but hailed good progress.
Local implementation of the national Test and Protect programme was highlighted as the third strand of work. Mr Ace spoke of significant progress, and a confidence that the Test and Protect programme can be maintained – but with a reliance on numbers remaining manageable.
The fourth area of work is the expansion of non-COVID services. Mr Ace noted that there were still services which had continued to operate throughout the epidemic, particularly around cancer treatment and mental health. He said that work was taking place to look at how, across a wider range of services, a model of care can be developed. Mr Ace noted challenges around any care models which require people to share confined spaces and that work is taking place to create a safe model while monitoring activity around COVID flow.
NHS Dumfries and Galloway Chief Operating Officer Julie White and Interim Director of Public Health Valerie White then also delivered an update.
They said a Care Home Oversight Group has been established and is now meeting daily, in line with national directions. COVID-19 testing arrangements are in place. This includes surveillance testing at care homes where no confirmed cases of COVID-19 are currently identified.
Towards the end of Monday’s meeting, discussion turned to concerns around mental health amid the effect of the epidemic and lockdown. It was agreed that more needs to be done to promote the support which continues to be available locally during this time.