COVID-19 vaccination and WeTalk

The main headline this week, after the disappointment of being placed in Tier 3 at the end of the national lockdown, is that the COVID-19 vaccination programme will start to roll out across the country from tomorrow (8 December). This is good news, especially for the most vulnerable in our communities, but it presents a significant logistical challenge for the NHS. To begin with, the hub in Staffordshire is at the Royal Stoke hospital and we expect limited supplies of the Pfizer vaccine, which requires special temperature-controlled handing. As more and more vaccination centres come online in the coming weeks and months, I’m keen that we do everything that we can to help with the programme. Nevertheless, it will be some time before the vaccine becomes available to the public at large, so we will not take the foot off the pedal on our outbreak control work and we will continue to encourage residents and businesses to follow the COVID-19 guidelines.

We are continuing to see a drop in Staffordshire’s infection rate, now below 200 per 100,000 across the county. This is an excellent result, given the rate was well above 400 only just over two weeks ago.  Stoke’s rate remains the highest in the West Midlands despite all of the efforts of the City Council, and we remain in close cooperation with them on all major aspects of the response, such as Lateral Flow Testing (LFT) and support to children in receipt of free school meals. 

Another area of development this week is the County Council leading the effort to get Keele University students home safely for Christmas through the use of Lateral Flow Testing (LFT).  Our programme rolling out LFT is developing as we learn by doing, as well as from others’ experience.  

As we approach the end of a very unusual year, can I also give a slight push for WeTalk, our programme to have better conversations between colleagues, about performance, but also more widely about wellbeing, expectations, aspirations and just generally having a conversation. What better time than the run-up to Christmas and the reflections that accompany the end of the year to have a catch-up with members of your team?  If you need a brush-up on the techniques and tools, the video which we made is a good start, as is the WeTalk intranet page which contains all the details.  After a year like this, we’ve all got lots to catch up on, and this year we won’t have the informality of the Christmas party to tell the boss what you really wanted to say!

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