16 Mar 2020
Council issues report on coronavirus COVID-19 preparations in Leeds
A report detailing how Leeds is responding to and preparing for further challenges in facing the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak has been published today.
The main report, to Leeds City Council’s executive board, outlines how the council and its health and social care partners have been working with emergency services and other partners across the city to make sure systems are in place to care for people and communities and keep the city running.
Further plans are also being developed in addition to this to mobilise the city’s strong sense of community spirit and introduce networks to keep people connected and supported when they have to remain within their own homes.
A verbal update about the latest situation will also be given to councillors at the executive board meeting when they discuss the report on Wednesday.
It summarises all the work of the past couple of months in planning for the growing spread of the virus in the context of a newly-revised version of the existing local Pandemic Plan. It reveals that the council and the city are at this stage “as well prepared as possible given the resources and information available”.
The report is from the Director of Public Health, who leads the Leeds COVID -19 Oversight, Assurance and Co-ordination Group (COAC). This includes representatives from public health, NHS trusts, adult and children’s social care, primary care, clinical commissioning groups and independent providers.
In the report it details how a cross-council coronavirus planning group has been set up to ensure consistent working across services. The group has developed a strategic response and recovery plan structured around six the key themes of health, infrastructure and supplies, business and economic impact, citizens and communities, organisational impact and media and communications.
The group’s work is to be overseen by a multi-agency high-level strategic command Gold response group, chaired by the council’s chief executive Tom Riordan and including emergency services representatives. This Gold group will report to a group of senior politicians chaired by council leader Councillor Judith Blake.
“It’s critical that we have the right people and systems in place to ensure we can adapt our public services to cope with the complexities of the emerging pandemic. We have many years’ experience of productively working together across organisations in Leeds and those partnerships will be crucial to keeping the city running as best it can in these circumstances.
“These are challenging times but be assured we are doing everything we can to prepare. The welfare of all our citizens is our main concern and we will be prioritising looking after the most vulnerable and focusing more than ever on keeping our key frontline services operating.”
Councillor Blake commented:
“As a council we have thoroughly reviewed our processes and systems to ensure we are ready to adapt rapidly to the challenges of this emerging pandemic. This is going to be a very difficult time for everyone and I know people will want to do what they can to help.
“Leeds is a compassionate city and I would urge everybody to put some thought now into what they can do for people who may be self-isolating or need extra support as new restrictions are introduced nationally. We have proved time and again what a strong, resilient city we are with caring communities that look out for each other and this will stand us in good stead now more than ever.”
The report identifies potential pressures, impact and risks to the city’s health and social care systems. It addresses issues like emergency decision making, prioritising critical services and using the council’s workforce flexibly. It explains how there is extensive liaison with a range of national and regional colleagues and agencies to ensure the latest information is available to inform plans.
On health it talks about arrangements for community testing and highlights the need to consider how NHS services would cope if large numbers of staff were themselves ill or having to self-isolate. Staffing concerns also link into supporting infrastructure and supplies, with public transport and supply chains potentially disrupted.
The council is keen to mitigate the business and economic impact and is urging the government to reveal more information on the Budget announcement of support measures so it can help administer that support locally as soon as possible.
It is also focusing on its own business continuity to cushion the effects on citizens and communities through schools, care homes, commissioned services, community hubs, leisure centres and waste management services. It also looks to local communities to help support each other.
The council’s business continuity is also at the heart of the areas examined in the organisational impact section, with critical services, financial considerations, IT systems and workforce planning all being put to the test.
Keeping information and updates flowing to the public, staff, and schools, councillors, MPs and partners is a key focus of the media and communications function. National guidance, in particular from Public Health England and NHS sources, is being drawn on.
This work will be constantly reviewed and revised as new challenges emerge over the coming weeks and months.
Meanwhile, Voluntary Action Leeds have already started keeping details of people willing to help on file. If you can offer support of any kind you can contact them by email on firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 0113 297 7920, but please be aware this will greatly increase the demands on them so it may take a while to get through.
For a full copy of the executive board report click here
Notes to editors: The council and key partners, especially the voluntary, community and faith sector, are together working up the best approach to ensure that volunteering effort is coordinated and safe (especially for our most vulnerable). We are working on a categorisation scheme and contact arrangements and will publicise this as soon as possible.
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