Welcome to my blog for January and a happy new year to you, in what continues to be the greatest challenge faced by the NHS in living memory. As you’ll know we have been placed in a third national lockdown position, although we have for many months been living under restrictions in a bid to stem the rate of growth of the covid virus. Unfortunately, we are facing a bleak start to the new year but our shining light at the end of the tunnel is the vaccine which we, as a borough, are working hard to roll out to protect our communities as fast as we possibly can.
As an indication of the continuing seriousness of this pandemic, on 3rd January our infection rate was 359 cases per 100,000 people, which is an increase of just over 50 per cent on the previous week. Although this is a significant increase we are not yet seeing the very sharp rises that have been seen in other areas across the country, but we are expecting to. There were five deaths reported in the latest set of available weekly figures but this is, sadly, expected to increase again soon as our infection rate continues to rise. Almost 500 of our residents have now succumbed to the disease, which puts into stark contrast the dangers that this still poses to our local population.
The situation in our hospitals is also very bleak with more than 50 per cent of all beds in our system now occupied by covid patients. Added to that, one person is being admitted to intensive care every day. This puts huge pressure on the system as an enormous amount of work is needed to care for each patient in a high dependency unit and they are often there for a very long time.
As I’ve said the vaccine – which we now have two versions of in the borough is being delivered locally and more than 3,000 vaccines have already been administered across the borough with a further 5,525 planned up to 15 January. The latest vaccination site to go live is at Middleton Health Centre which began operating on the 7th January 2021. Its great news that some care home staff have already been vaccinated. We have almost 1,300 care home residents to vaccinate so our first batches of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine will be prioritised to complete the care home programme.
Unfortunately we are limited by the supply of vaccines available to us. I would urge everyone to be patient whilst we do our very best to roll out this lifeline. Please wait to be contacted by your GP practice or another healthcare provider who will be delivering your vaccine. You can find out about the roll out of the covid-19 vaccine locally on the Rochdale Council website.
I’d also like to remind you that despite the covid pandemic you always need to take action if you notice any worrying signs and symptoms or changes in your body – please continue to seek medical help from your practice. Similarly remember there are support mechanisms in place if you are struggling with loneliness at this time – NHS Feeling lonely.
So we continue to hold our statutory meetings in public virtually for 2021. You are more than welcome to be involved. Our next Governing Body meeting takes place on Friday 15th January 2021, 9.30am – 10.30am and will be live streamed on our YouTube channel Read Governing Body meeting papers for Friday 15 January 2021. Following this meeting our Integrated Commissioning Board meeting takes place on Tuesday 26 January 2021 at 3.30pm, this will also be live streamed on our YouTube channel. Read the papers for the meeting.
Stay safe and thanks for reading. Until next month.
Dr Chris Duffy