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CORONA VIRUS

 

Press Release from Buckinghamshire Council

15 January 2021

More Bucks residents to get COVID-19 vaccine appointment invites this weekend

A new national mass vaccination site is opening next week in Slough.  Many Buckinghamshire residents aged 80 and over will start getting NHS letters from tomorrow (Sat 16 Jan) inviting them to book COVID-19 vaccination appointments because they’re around a 45 minute drive from the new site in Salt Hill.

Bucks residents aged 75 and over will also start receiving the NHS letters next week offering them appointments too.

Residents who get the letters can choose whether they want to go ahead and book at a national site or not - all Bucks residents over the age of 80 will be offered a vaccination appointment locally through their GP practice by the end of January so people can decide whether they want to wait for a local appointment instead.

If you do decide to book a vaccine through the national booking system, some residents may be offered a slot at a local pharmacy led site in Buckinghamshire, which is also being run by the NHS nationally.

Locally, GP practices in Bucks have formed eight local vaccination hubs and there are also plans to add an additional local site in the south of the county in the coming weeks.

Please do not contact your GP or the NHS direct as you will be written to when your vaccine appointment becomes available.

Martin Tett, Leader of Buckinghamshire Council said:

“This shows how capacity to deliver the vaccine is increasing dramatically here in Buckinghamshire. If you’re waiting for your vaccine and are in one of the highest priority groups, it won’t be long now.  The number of Bucks residents getting their vaccine is increasing with every day and by the end of January every resident aged 80 or above will have been offered a local appointment through their GP. The aim is to offer vaccinations to all Bucks residents over the age of 70 by the middle of February and the NHS is well on track to achieve that. Please be assured that all parts of the county are covered by this programme.”

Notes to Editor

 

 

Statement from NHS Buckinghamshire CCG
 

10 January 2021

Vaccination Letters received this weekend ​

Letters from the NHS begun arriving this weekend as the national vaccination programme “rapidly accelerates”. These letters have been sent to people aged 80 or over who live 30 to 45 minutes’ drive from one of the seven new sites, including residents who live in Buckinghamshire. The sites closest to Buckinghamshire are:

  • Epsom racecourse in Surrey (South East)
  • Excel Centre in London (London)
  • Robertson House in Stevenage (East of England)

The letter explains how they can book a slot – over the phone or online through the national booking service.

Whilst residents who have received the letter can choose to book through the national booking system if they do not want to use the local system, we want to absolutely reassure them that it is our intention that all patients over the age of 80 will be offered a vaccination appointment locally through their GP Practice by the end of January.

All local Buckinghamshire local sites will be operating by 25 January with two additional sites going live next week in Aylesbury and High Wycombe and further sites to follow later in the month. We are also finalising the plans for the two mass vaccination sites in the county.

ENDS



News from NHS Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group

06 January 2021

Buckinghamshire's COVID vaccination rollout continues in High Wycombe and Chesham

More COVID-19 vaccination sites are up and running in Buckinghamshire this week, as GP-led centres in High Wycombe and Chesham begin vaccinating local patients aged 80 and over.

These follow the first vaccination sites that went live in the county over December, in Chalfont St Peter, Princes Risborough and Winslow.

As well as people aged 80 and over, care home staff are also being prioritised in this first phase of the national vaccination rollout. This is in line with the national Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) prioritisation programme.

All patients who are eligible to have the vaccine at this stage will be contacted by the NHS first. Patients are being asked not to contact their GP practice to try to arrange an appointment.

Dr Raj Bajwa, Clinical Chair of NHS Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “It is hugely exciting to see the vaccination programme continue to roll out in Buckinghamshire and to give some of our most vulnerable patients the best start we can to 2021.

“But while the vaccinations are a great cause for optimism, we also all know that coronavirus continues to spread at a worrying rate and that difficult times still lie ahead. We would ask that people please continue to be patient. This vaccination programme is very complex, and our GP practice staff are working incredibly hard to ensure that our most vulnerable patients are protected as soon as possible. Please do not contact your GP surgery yourself, but instead wait for the NHS to contact you.

“Other age groups and vulnerable patients will be offered the vaccination over the coming weeks and months, in line with the national priorities of this phased rollout. In the meantime, please follow all the safety guidance to protect yourself, your loved ones and your NHS services.”



ENDS

Notes to Editor

 

Statement from Buckinghamshire Council

31 December 2020

Guidance for pupils returning to school for the Spring Term

Anita Cranmer, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said: “Buckinghamshire's schools are not on the government list for a delayed start. The delayed start is only being used as a last resort and - with the exception of some guidance that has been issued for secondary schools – does not apply to all Tier 4 areas.

"With that in mind face-to-face teaching in primary schools should resume from the start of the new term as planned.We have reviewed yesterday’s, 30 December, Government announcement regarding the start of the school spring term and the implications for pupils and school staff  – guidance has been issued to our schools and we will continue to support them.

“The ‘Major Incident’ that was also declared yesterday relates to the increasing infection rate and number of beds available in our hospitals, which are under extreme pressure at the moment. Whilst we all have a part to play in supporting the NHS, the decision to implement contingency planning from the DfE in some Tier 4 areas is not directly related to this.”


The guidance for pupils attending Buckinghamshire Schools is as follows:

Primary Schools

  • From the 4 January primary schools are expected to resume face to face teaching as planned.
  • Testing of staff in primary schools is likely to start before the end of the month..
  • When we have more information on this we will share with school leaders and offer support.

Secondary Schools

  • From 4 January – only vulnerable pupils and children of keyworkers should attend secondary schools. For all other pupils as far as possible there should be remote learning, with pupils who are in exam year groups receiving as close to normal lessons as possible remotely.
  • Covid testing resources are due to be delivered on the 4 January and schools will be preparing to test all staff as soon as is practicable.
  • Arrangements to test* Pupils in Years 11 & 13 will be made during the week beginning 4 January.
  • From the 11 January - vulnerable pupils and children of keyworkers should continue to attend school with pupils in Years 11 & 13 attending too.
  • Arrangements to test* pupils in other year groups will be made during week beginning 11 January and continue to be educated remotely.
  • From the 18 January all pupils should be attending face to face education. Staff should be tested weekly as well as contacts of any positive cases.
  • *Pupils should not arrive at school for a test unless you have been asked to do so.

Special Schools

  • All pupils in special schools, due to the fact that they have EHCPs, are classified as vulnerable.
  • Special Schools will therefore be preparing to re-open fully to pupils from the 4 January (unless any INSET days are already planned).
  • Shielding advice is currently in place in Tier 4 areas, and so all clinically extremely vulnerable children and young people are advised not to attend school.
  • Where a pupil is unable to attend school because they are complying with clinical or public health advice, we expect schools to offer them immediate access to remote education.

For further information parents and carers are advised to read the government guidance https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/guidance-for-schools-coronavirus-covid-19  or visit their school's website

ENDS

Notes to Editor

 

29 December 2020

 

Dear Resident,

 

I’m sure you will have heard the good news this morning about the approval of the Oxford vaccine. Whilst this is excellent news for the future, we are currently faced with a rapidly deteriorating situation with regards to our Buckinghamshire health and social care system.

 

This is a direct result of the situation prior to the introduction of Tier 4 when our number of positive cases were increasing. As we still haven’t yet seen the impact from moving into Tier 4, these numbers have continued to increase swiftly, fuelled by the new, far more transmissible COVID-19 variant.

 

Figures up to 24 December put the number of cases now up at 514 per 100,000 and current projections are expecting this to increase to closer to 800 per 100,000 by next week. This compares to the current average COVID-19 rate in England of 402.6 per 100,000.

 

Of greatest concern, this increase is also being seen in our older age groups. Our rate in the over 60s population has gone up by over 60% and this is now putting our health services under very severe pressure, not helped by staff shortages through increasing numbers of positive cases and self-isolation amongst staff. The pressure on the Buckinghamshire NHS is mirrored in surrounding areas.

 

Taking all of this into account, Buckinghamshire Council, in consultation with NHS partners, has declared a ‘Major Incident’, amid fears the number of COVID-19 cases could overwhelm our local health and social care services. For example, hospitals in Buckinghamshire are already having to postpone or delay non urgent treatment.

 

I completely understand that most people are continuing to follow the government’s guidance. However, frankly some are not. Also, it would be quite tempting to see the announcement of the new Oxford vaccine as meaning that the pandemic is nearly over and we can relax. It is not over and we certainly cannot relax our behaviours. It’s vital that we all continue to play our part in helping to reduce the transmission of the virus by strictly following the current Tier 4 guidance. I would encourage everyone to stay at home as much as possible and help those who are vulnerable, by offering to collect their shopping and prescriptions etc.

 

Of course, I realise that many people are struggling during this difficult time; so, if you or someone you know needs support – perhaps with food or finances – then please don’t hesitate to contact one of the support lines below.

 

  • Helping Hands – Call 01296 531 151 to get support with food and energy bills over winter. The phone line is open Monday to Thursday, 9am to 5:30pm, Friday, 9am to 5pm. In an emergency, please call our out of hours team on 0800 999 7677.
  • Test and Trace Support Payments – If you are asked to self-isolate, you may be entitled to a Test and Trace Support Payment of £500, depending on your personal circumstances. (See the link for full details.)
  • Local Emergency Support – If you live in Buckinghamshire, you may be able to apply for Local Emergency Support. This is intended to cover urgent short-term emergencies (i.e. no immediate food, no heating or lighting) through the use of food banks, food vouchers, and utility meter top-ups. Apply online or call us on 01296 382 414 during office hours. An out of hours service is also available by calling 0800 999 7677.

 

If you or anyone from your household develops COVID-19 symptoms, it is important to be tested as soon as possible. Call 119 or book a test online. If you or someone in your household is feeling unwell (about anything), call 111 for information and advice or call 999 if it’s an emergency.

 

If you have a less urgent concern or a minor illness, I’d like to remind you that excellent sources of health advice are also available via the Ask NHS app, NHS 111 online and at your local pharmacy. By using these options for minor health concerns, you can help GP practices ensure that we support patients with the most urgent needs more quickly.

 

Lots of other health and wellbeing information, including advice on self-care and looking after your mental health, is available via the Buckinghamshire Ready for Winter page.

 

Vaccinations

Our NHS partners are working hard to get the vaccines rolled out as quickly as possible and we are expecting more local sites to come on stream in the next few weeks. The NHS will be announcing these as soon as possible. You will also be advised when it is your turn to be vaccinated.

 

We are so close to turning the corner on the control of this horrible pandemic. I am confident that by late spring things should have improved significantly and we can begin to look forward to a return to something nearer normality. However, please don’t let us fall at this final hurdle. There is still time for many vulnerable people to contract COVID-19, with possibly fatal consequences, in this winter period. An overloaded local health system can also endanger the lives of those with other serious health conditions. So, for the coming weeks please, if you can, stay at home, stay safe, and protect Bucks and each other.

 

Martin Tett
Leader of Buckinghamshire Council

 

News from NHS Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group


21 December 2020 COVID-19 vaccinations continue in Princes Risborough and Winslow this week

 

The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination continues across Buckinghamshire this week, as GP-led Primary Care Networks in Princes Risborough and Winslow begin vaccinating local patients aged 80 and over.

These follow the first COVID vaccination site in the county on Monday, 14 December, at Chalfont St Peter, with more to come over the next few weeks and months.

As well as people aged 80 and over, care home staff are also being prioritised in this first phase of the national vaccination rollout. This is in line with the national Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) prioritisation programme.

All patients who are eligible to have the vaccine at this stage will be contacted by the NHS first. Patients are being asked not to contact their GP practice to try to arrange an appointment.

The new vaccination sites in the Princes Risborough and Winslow areas hope to be operating from Monday, 21 December, but this date may be subject to change.

More GP-led Primary Care Networks in Buckinghamshire  will be joining the vaccination programme in phases, and details of these will be provided when they are available.

Dr Raj Bajwa, Chair of NHS Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “It is hugely encouraging to see this first phase of the COVID vaccination rollout continue across Buckinghamshire as we reach the end of this very difficult year. We would ask that people please be patient, however. The vaccination programme is very complex and our GP practice staff are working incredibly hard to ensure that our most vulnerable patients are protected as soon as possible. Please do not contact your GP surgery yourself, but instead wait for the NHS to contact you.

“Other age groups and vulnerable patients will be offered the vaccination over the coming weeks and months, in line with the national priorities of this phased rollout. In the meantime, please follow the safety guidance to protect yourself and your loved ones, and please do take care over the Christmas period.”



ENDS

 

Press Release from Buckinghamshire Council

21 December 2020

Protect yourself, others and the NHS

View in browser

 

 

Dear Resident

 

You will almost certainly have seen, heard or read about Saturday’s announcement by the Prime Minister that Buckinghamshire has been placed under even tighter ‘Tier 4’ restrictions, along with many other parts of east and south east England. These new rules took effect at one minute past midnight yesterday morning and replace the Tier 3 restrictions we previously had been put into.

 

These new rules for Buckinghamshire also mean that, very sadly, ‘Christmas bubbles’ are now not allowed and people in Bucks should spend Christmas within their own household or support bubble only. Non-essential retail is also closed.

 

This development is a shock to us all and is certainly a nasty sting in the tail at the end of a terrible year. Frankly, I did not expect this, although the figures I see regularly were clearly heading in the wrong direction across the whole council area, in all former District Council areas. I had thought that we might have additional restrictions after Christmas but did not expect the problem to escalate so rapidly. It’s clear that the pandemic has, unfortunately, entered a new phase especially due to the risk posed by the new variant strain of the COVID-19 virus, which government scientists tell us makes the coronavirus spread more easily.

 

Because we have seen the number of cases in Buckinghamshire increase rapidly in recent weeks, the situation is one of urgency as we try to contain the spread of the virus. You can see our latest data on the Council’s website via our COVID-19 dashboard and via information published by the Government. The Government also has an interactive map where you can find the latest case numbers in your postcode area.

 

I am aware from emails I receive that some people are not supportive of the new Tier 4 restrictions. I fully understand that. Personally, I am very concerned for our Buckinghamshire businesses and the real threat to their future and the jobs they create. Nevertheless, whatever one’s own private opinions, this is now the law and we should follow the new rules. If we do not, we risk spreading the new Covid strain further across the UK.

 

On a positive note, this past week saw our first vaccination centre open and next week should hopefully see two more open. I am also expecting more sites either before or just after New Year. These are run by the NHS and they will contact people to advise them when and where to attend. Please wait to be contacted, although I understand that can be frustrating. 2020 has been a horrible year but there is hope on the horizon and we need to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe until then.

 

The new ‘Tier 4’ rules for Buckinghamshire

These are the main rules now in place. Please carefully read the link at the bottom which gives the full Government advice.

 

 

·         You must stay at home other than for the following essential reasons:

 

§  Exercise with people you live with or who are in your support bubble

§  Shopping for essential supplies like food and medicine

§  Work and volunteering that you cannot do at home

§  Education during term time and childcare

§  To visit some public outdoor spaces such as parks and the countryside for exercise or recreation

§  Medical reasons, including to get a COVID-19 test if you have symptoms

§  Communal worship within the guidelines for places of worship

§  For one person to meet one other person separately in a permitted outdoor place

 

·         You should work from home if possible and in agreement with your employer

·         You should not travel outside your Tier 4 area unless for work or another legally permitted reason

·         You cannot stay away from home unless permitted by law

·         You cannot form a ‘Christmas bubble’ and must spend Christmas within your own household or support bubble

·         Non-essential retail is closed

·         Pubs, cafes, bars and restaurants are closed other than for takeaway/click and collect

·         Leisure centres and gyms must close; outdoor gyms can remain open

·         Hotels and other accommodation must close

·         Personal care like hairdressers, barbers and nail salons must close

·         Community Centres and halls must close except for a limited number of exempt activities

·         Our libraries will close from now and over Christmas and some sites will reopen from Monday 28 Dec for essential IT access and click and collect services only

·         Household Recycling Centres remain open

 

This is a short summary of the main points of the Tier 4 restrictions but it’s impossible to include all the detail plus the exemptions, so please read the Tier 4 guidance in full on the Government’s website.

 

 

Remember – Hands, Face, Space

We must all remember the main defences we have against this virus are the basics:

 

·         Wash your hands thoroughly and regularly

·         Keep a distance from people you don’t live with or who you’re not in a support bubble with

·         Wear a face covering where required

 

If you or anyone you live with develops symptoms of coronavirus your whole household must isolate and anyone with symptoms must book a test either online, via the NHS COVID-19 app or by calling 119.

 

Outdoor events

Unfortunately, any planned outdoor events such as carol singing should not take place in Buckinghamshire and should be cancelled, as these aren’t classed as a ‘reasonable reason’ to leave home in a Tier 4 area.

 

Support for businesses

I know this news brings fresh misery for our local businesses already struggling after this awful year. Government support remains available via the furlough and other schemes. Locally we offer the Local Restrictions Support Grant. In addition, we have been urgently working over the weekend on a new scheme to support businesses impacted by the changes and hope to release details within the next few days. The finances available for this are limited but our aim is to support as many businesses as possible impacted by the new restrictions. Please keep checking the ‘support for businesses’ section of our website and the information for businesses on the Government’s website. (Please note some of these pages are still being updated to reflect the new Tier 4 restrictions, so please keep checking back for the latest information).

 

People who are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable

The ‘shielding’ programme will come back into effect for areas in Tier 4, including Buckinghamshire. This means there is special advice for people who are classed as ‘Clinically Extremely Vulnerable’. This is the same advice as was applied during the national November lockdown. Please note, the guidance is not the same as it was back in the spring during the first lockdown. As before, people who are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable will get letters and texts and emails where the national programme has their contact details. Please call us on 01296 395 000 if you have any questions about the ‘shielding’ programme.

 

Our NHS

Our colleagues in the NHS are facing high demand on their services now, caused by the usual winter illnesses and rising COVID cases. These services are there for you if you need them urgently and the best thing we can do to support our frontline workers is to stay at home and reduce the spread of the virus.

 

Stay safe, protect Bucks

At the end of an incredibly difficult year, these latest developments hurt us all, especially with so many of us now having to change plans for Christmas at the last minute. It is undoubtedly a testing time and if you’re struggling, please reach out as our local support services are ready to help. You can find out more via the ‘Health and Wellbeing Bucks’ website which has details of all the organisations that can help you if you need.  

 

This makes us all feel more vulnerable and comes at a difficult time of year for many so let’s check in on each other in a safe way, maybe just by picking up the phone or dropping our friends and neighbours a text message to see if they’re ok and whether they need anything.

 

I am so proud of our strong communities here in Buckinghamshire and my main message today is to remember those strengths, and how much stronger we are together. If we all take collective responsibility, following the rules as individuals, we can turn this situation around together. I know it’s hard, but this year is nearly behind us and while we face a very serious immediate challenge in the present, the future will be better and we will get through this.

 

Stay at home, stay safe, and protect Bucks and each other,

 

Martin Tett,

 

Leader, 

Buckinghamshire Council

 

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