Dignity in Care Awards, Covid vaccination prioritisation and our new intranet

Our colleague, Charlotte Murphy, has been in touch to remind me that the Dignity in Care Awards are open for nominations for the 2021 round.  You will perhaps remember my plugging these awards in previous years, making the point that we are probably unique in recognising professional carers as well as volunteers.  In a year where care and carers have never had more public and media attention, this is our opportunity to say thank you to the profession of caring and to recognise those who go the extra mile.  I expect that the judging will be even harder than normal, but it’s a really nice problem to look forward to.

I was interested over the weekend at the news coverage and public reaction to Covid vaccination prioritisation, and particularly the news that council employees in other places have received their vaccinations from apparently left-over stocks.  

The UK took a risk in procuring large quantities early, and even more of a risk in launching the programme in December when the supply chains were not yet fully formed.  It very much looks like that risk is paying off, with the combination of the latest lockdown and vaccination programme reducing infection rates, hospital occupancy and deaths. 

You will recall that I have written before on the unfairness of Covid as a disease; the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, experts who understand risk better than anybody else in the world – they work out our insurance and pension rates for a living – have produced an analysis of effectiveness of the recommendations for prioritisation put forward by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).  At present, the vaccination programme is focused on preventable death – largely those in old age, of those who are clinically extremely vulnerable. I’ll let those of a curious nature read the paper, but it was interesting that a care home resident is 2,300 times more likely to die of this disease than somebody who is under 50 years old.  This is why, in Staffordshire, we are focusing our early efforts on the high-risk cohorts of elderly and those clinically vulnerable to the disease, particularly at a time when vaccine supplies are constrained.  Whilst I recognise that this is disappointing for some county council colleagues, and for other valuable front line services such as our emergency services and teachers, Staffordshire is at the head of the UK’s ambitious programme, with 143,000 of our county’s most vulnerable people vaccinated, well above the national average.  Whilst I cannot give you exact timescales, I can say with confidence that we’re doing everything we can to get as many people in the county vaccinated as soon as possible.      

Lastly in this lengthy blog entry, for which I apologise, we’ve got a new intranet coming, which will assist us in moving to the next phase of Smart Working, making all of our working lives easier.  It has built in Microsoft SharePoint, so it works alongside everything else we do in Microsoft 365.  It will be dove-tailed with our greater use of Teams, with the intranet content being relevant to all or most colleagues; information that is only relevant to certain groups of people will be stored in Teams.  We think our new intranet deserves a name.  Help us decide – vote for a name by Thursday 4 February. We’ll let you know the winning name in The Knot on that day.

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