January Health Matters

Four Issues in this month’s Podcast
• Covid-19 Numbers
• Covid-19 Vaccine Deployment
• Covid – Herd Identity
• Other Health Issues

1, Covid Numbers – it looks like we’re getting past the peak of this curve in St Albans
• The peak was on JAN 2nd740 cases per 100,000
• Now down to 421 (but remember that’s still high!
Townsend & New Greens is the highest – 873, and Harpenden Common is the lowest at 103!
• In Hertfordshire the average is now down to 605 (peak was 909 on JAN 4)
• The 3 highest Districts are
o Broxbourne – 822 cases
o Welwyn Hatfield – 835
o Watford – 782

For the latest data go to https://hcc-phei.shinyapps.io/covid19_public_dashboard/_w_6f815bed/_w_2e122a23/_w_283f0947/_w_55a79c5a/ https://hcc-phei.shinyapps.io/covid19_public_dashboard/_w_6f815bed/_w_2e122a23/_w_283f0947/_w_55a79c5a/

2. Covid Vaccine – Deployment – Tremendous progress at the Batchwood Hall Vaccination Centre:-
• All over 80s who can be contacted done
• NHS frontline staff and Care Homes are done
• Now in the 75-80 cohort (I had mine yesterday!)
• 70-75 next
• 1,100 per day
• Pharmacies soon (but they have limited space – the 15 minute wait!)

You may receive a letter from NHS to have it done at Robertson House in Stevenage – a bird in the hand?

3. Covid – Herd Immunity! When can we expect to return to the new normal? It’s impossible to predict but let’s look at what we do know; essentially we need to bring the “R-Number well below 1.
Herd Immunity – it was our initial strategy to allow herd immunity to build as fast as possible; you want the R-Number to be as high as possible for to happen as soon as possible. But that had too great an impact on our economic, social, and wellbeing
• Social Distancing/Lockdown – is the very opposite-that seeks to protect people but in so doing pushes the R-Number down!
• Vaccination means that we’re protecting people whilst at the same time reducing the R-Rate.
From news stories this week around 1 in 10 have protection from Covid; it was 1 in 20 back in OCT! We need a protection level of around 70% (i.e. 1 in 1.33) to get herd immunity and hat assumes no more mutations – which we know is a false assumption!
Here’s a good update on the situation

3. Other Health & Social Services issues – it’s not all about Covid! What else is going on?
Mental Health – Healthwatch Hertfordshire survey results and increased number of signposting cases point to substantial pressures for mental health services and significant concerns about access to services and capacity. There does not yet appear to be the level of increased investment to meet increased need.
Growing Backlog of non Covid Health Interventions – We all appreciate the efforts of Hospital staff in this crisis, but there is a significant backlog now of patients requiring non-elective surgery and Consultant appointments.
• Mount Vernon – there is a consultation programme on the future of the Mount Vernon Cancer Centre – the St Albans events (that are free and open to everyone) are on MAR 11 and MAR 23 for full details go to https://mvccreview.nhs.uk/location-specific-events
• Social Care – the main issues are:-
• Increased demand for services e.g., older people, the need for continued investment in services in large budget areas e.g., support for people with learning or physical disabilities
• Crucial relationship the Voluntary Services community to help deliver local support
• Challenges of Covid 19 including PPE, Care Homes and learning from the first wave
• Workforce health and wellbeing


Alan Bellinger
20th January 2021

Alan Bellinger Written by:

Alan is chair of the Maltings Surgery Patients Participation Group, and is also a Trustee of Healthwatch Hertfordshire. After retirement from a successful career in the private sector (working in both training and Information Technology), Alan wanted to get involved in supporting local health issues and has an excellent understanding of the patient’s view of health matters, Alan has lived in St Albans for well over 60 years; he is a widower with two children and he especially enjoys the company of his five grandchildren – four of whom live in the local area.

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