Setting up specialist primary care assessment units
In response to COVID-19, we designed, set up and configured a number
of specialist primary care assessment units known as ‘Hot Hubs’ for
people exhibiting coronavirus symptoms.
Working with 10 local CCGs, the units enabled patients to be assessed
in a separate location, reducing avoidable attendances at GP practices
and protecting both patients and staff from the risk of infection.
This was an entirely new way of working for the GP practice staff who
were supported by the Programmes
and Projects Team to manage the change in business processes by:
- Coordinating conversion of the General Practice estate
- Providing the necessary additional IT equipment
- Re-locating staff and equipment to the newly designated Hot Hub
- Identifying a suitable practice/location for suspected and
confirmed Covid-19 patients to be cohorted for appointments; and
ensuring hot and cold (non-COVID areas) were completely segregated,
with separate entrance and exits. This was a critical response to
enable primary care to continue to provide services to those in need
and was achieved at record pace with a maximum 2-3 day turnaround
Working with colleagues to form a dedicated Personal Protective
Equipment (PPE) team
With staff from a range of NECS departments, as well as from North and East London CSU, NHS England, Department
of Health and Social Care, the MoD and Cabinet Office, the PPE
team is responsible for procuring and delivering key protective
equipment to frontline staff across all sectors of health and social care.
We have been working daily with suppliers and manufacturers from all
over the world, not only those who regularly supply PPE and are used
to working with the NHS, but also small, innovative companies who have
re-purposed their operations in response to COVID-19. We have also
been collaborating with big companies and brands that we all know,
like Jaguar Land Rover, who are gifting PPE to the NHS.
The PPE team is a great example of a collaborative effort of
individuals and organisations, all working remotely to deliver for the NHS.
Our Consultancy Service has demonstrated great cross-regional working
and flexibility throughout the pandemic, responding rapidly to the
tasks of new and existing customers. They have adapted to and rapidly
resourced a number of high profile and fast moving COVID-19 related projects.
We began by providing governance support followed by a Programme
Management Office to the COVID-19 Regional Oversight Group in London,
working with local authorities, Public Health England, the London
Ambulance Service and the voluntary sector.
In addition, the team has developed a non-clinical support programme
to identify and transition key workers requiring a COVID-19 test to a
local test centre. This has been rolled out across sites including in
the North East of London, South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw, Humber Coast
and Vale and West Yorkshire and Harrogate. We were able to apply our
learning from having set up one of the first testing sites in the
country at the IKEA car park in Gateshead.
The Consultancy Service has also:
- Supported the roll-out and successful implementation of “Attend
Anywhere” outpatient video consultations across London and East
- Provided Demand and Capacity modelling around Covid-19 Testing in
Developing Standard Operating Procedures for COVID-19 patients
In partnership with primary care staff, we developed a range of
Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and tools to support the safe and
effective management of eight primary care 'red hubs’, managing
COVID-19 patients across North Cumbria.
An online resource called GP Team Net, was used to summarise and
signpost staff to key local and national support and tools. Our
experience in delivering a range of SOPs for both internal practice
procedures and home visiting was invaluable for this project.
Information was uploaded to a central GP Team Net repository to ensure
a standard process across all eight sites.
Understanding the impact of COVID-19
In March, our Medicines
Optimisation team began preparations to develop an understanding
of the likely impact of COVID-19. Work was undertaken to model the
expected timescale and pace of infections and when this was likely to
impact at a local level. This highlighted a narrow window of
opportunity, based on the exponential increase in cases in other parts
of the world, for preparation work to be complete.
Whilst case numbers were low,the Medicines Optimisation team
- Survey the IT and telephony equipment staff had available to them
- Identify who regularly worked away from the office to understand
who may not be familiar with how to do this
- Installed WhatsApp on all staff mobile phones and set up contact
- Ensured all staff were automatically logging into Jabber
- Identified any connectivity issues
- Updated communication lists
- Increased the use of video conferencing to improve familiarity
Based on previous experience of Pandemic Swine Flu, the Medicines
Optimisation team anticipated a re-prioritisation of work in order to
focus on patient safety, and medicines supply issues. As a result a
Start/Stop list was drawn up with input from Janet Walker (Medical
Director, Tees CCG) for use across all NECS CCG customers in order to
support the prioritisation of critical tasks.
Providing training for care homes
Working with colleagues at North Cumbria CCG over a
two week period, our Continuing
Healthcare Team delivered infection prevention and control
training to care homes in North Cumbria.
This helped the North East and Yorkshire Region reach out and provide
essential IPC training 81% of care homes - the highest percentage in
CHC colleagues also supported the wider system to avoid hospital
admissions and speed up safe discharges. Many were redeployed to other
organisations across the region to support the fight against COVID-19
including one colleague, who was previously a Deputy Care Home
Manager, volunteered to help in a 70-bed care home in Carlisle where
44 patients and staff had tested positive with COVID-19.
She said: “It didn’t feel as if it was a huge decision. It may sound
like a strange choice of words, but I absolutely loved helping them
out. I didn’t want to feel frustrated that my skills weren’t being put
to good use.
“I was there for a two week period, working 12 hour shifts and my
main aim was to take some stress away from the manager by providing
support. The manager and the carers are the true heroes. They just
continued to do their job with the same amount of dedication, if not a
bit more, and put the clients they look after day to day first, before themselves.”
To find out about our full range of support and how we can
support your health or social care organisation at this difficult
time, take a look at our