Storm Dennis, and the Integration of Health and Care

Having written last week’s blog entry during a lull in Storm Dennis, I probably should update readers on what happened next.  In short, it continued to rain.  By Monday afternoon, the River Trent in Burton was causing concern, and we activated the Incident Management Team, led by Becky Lee, our Health, Safety and Wellbeing Manager.  Burton had suffered from serious flooding in 2007, and significant barriers have been built since.  It shows the unprecedented times in which we are living that the river level peaked at 11.00pm only 4cm below the tops of the barriers.  The team, with John Tradewell, who was our duty director this week, worked through the night, planning a response to the flooding, taking in such diverse considerations as notifying householders, planning for the potential evacuation of care homes, moving sandbags to shore up defences, and assisting the Environment Agency and Fire and Rescue Service.  Becky Lee is in effect our Operations Officer, and it may surprise you to read that the IMT has been mobilised 4 times since the start of 2019: the collapse of Allied Healthcare; the wildfires on the Staffordshire Moorlands; a building response in Newcastle; and now Storm Dennis.  They are 4 very different scenarios, but the core team are up and running in an hour in Staffordshire Place 1, providing the communications and control that allows the subject matter experts to work effectively.  It’s a seriously impressive organisation. 

On a completely different tack this week, it might interest you to read about the integration of health and care that is progressing in Stoke and Staffordshire.  I had a very useful session with Dale Bywater, the Director of the National Health Service England and Improvement for the Midlands (known as NHS E and I in the vernacular).  This is a relatively newly combination of the commissioners (the CCGs) and the providers (the hospital and community trusts) which has provided some welcome clarity to the system.  Dale is very happy with our Long Term Plan, one of 5 out of the 11 in his region to be passed as good to go.  He is clear that the time has come for implementation, and I made it clear that the county council is very supportive of getting on with it.  It reminds me of 2 old military adages; no plan survives first contact with the enemy, and plans are useful, but planning is invaluable.  In short, the plan is not perfect, because it can never be perfect, but it is good enough to start us in the right direction.  The planning that we have done over the past months will give us the knowledge and confidence to adapt our thinking and actions as the situation develops.  The role of the county council is many-faceted; we are the single biggest commissioner of social care and therefore must align what we do with the plan, and we are also the largest democratic body in the county, with a role in ensuring that people of Staffordshire get the healthcare and social care that they need in the future. 

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