Agenda items ranging from child poverty to community engagement were discussed at Monday’s meeting of the Dumfries and Galloway NHS Board.
However, the ongoing response to the coronavirus pandemic remained a recurring backdrop to the meeting which once again took place virtually.
Nurse Director Alice Wilson delivered an update on complaints processes, noting new national guidance. Board members asked questions about statistics around complaints from individuals within protected character groups, complaints via sub-contracted services, and about general staff awareness of the complaints handling procedure.
A report on community empowerment was considered, and led to discussion around the promotion of opportunities for communities to engage and participate. This resulted in a decision to consider the embedding of a strategy around community participation and engagement, in relation to the Integration Joint Board.
A report on the Child Poverty Action Plan was presented by Health and Wellbeing Specialist Phil Myers, noting that this work around poverty and child health is something that is mandated through the Scottish Government and links with Child Poverty Act. It requires local agencies to work together on creation of Child Poverty Action Plans.
Mr Myers explained that the paper, which takes a strong approach to children’s rights, had already been to the Community Planning Partnership Board and to Full Council. The NHS Board agreed to take it forward.
An update was then delivered by NHS Chief Executive Jeff Ace on the cluster of COVID-19 cases in the Annan and Gretna areas, stating that 12 positive cases have been identified. Mr Ace acknowledged anticipation that lockdown restrictions on movement which were extended because of the cluster would shortly be eased. He commended Interim Director of Public Health Valerie White and the Test and Protect team for their handling of the situation and praised the multi-agency response and particularly the work of the local authority in promoting messaging.
Chief Operating Officer Julie White then provided an update from the perspective of the Care Home Oversight Group, noting the work taking place around staff testing.
Mrs White noted the significant amount of busyness in non-COVID areas, including bed occupancy and activity within general practice. She noted a rise in delayed discharges, which had previously fallen to very low levels amid the response to COVID. Mrs White noted much of this had historically related to care at home packages but currently involved issues such as guardianship, adaptations to homes and specialist accommodation.
Speaking about the Winter Plan, Mrs White noted the key role for the Test and Protect team amid the ongoing challenge posed by the coronavirus, and pledged a whole system approach.
In her report, Director of Finance Katy Lewis said the financial position excluding COVID-19 was where the Board would have expected to be at this time of year, but with the coronavirus set to have a very significant impact. She noted that the sustainability and modernisation programme was progressing but work remained to be undertaken to determine the financial impact of the programme this year given the COVID-19 situation.