What's New Bulletin 70 - 2 December 2021

This is the seventieth weekly provider bulletin, containing information on guidance, procedures and new initiatives. Very urgent or high priority communications may still be issued on an ad hoc basis, but we will try to keep these to a minimum.

COVID RELATED INFORMATION

  1. Information from Birmingham City Council Public Health - Omicron update (information for all providers)
  2. UPDATED GUIDANCE: COVID-19: management of staff and exposed patients and residents in health and social care settings (information for all providers)
  3. Adult Social Care Infection Control and Testing Fund: round 3 (October 2021 to March 2022) – Care Home and CQC Registered Community Care allocations (information for all providers with CQC registered locations in Birmingham)
  4. REMINDER Resources for COVID-19 booster and flu vaccinations for social care staff (information for all providers)
  5. REMINDER Compulsory Vaccination of Care Home Staff – ensuring applications for medically exempt COVID passes have been started by your staff (information for all Care Homes)
  6. REMINDER Please ensure all vaccination information on the Capacity Tracker is up to date – Confirmation pop up added to the system (information for all providers)

IN OTHER NEWS

  1. Level 2 Cold Weather Alert between 9 am on Wednesday 1 December and midnight on Saturday 4 December (information for all providers)

COVID 19 RELATED INFORMATION

1. Information from Birmingham City Council Public Health - Omicron update (information for all providers)

The Prime Minister has announced new COVID rules to help us all protect ourselves and others from a new variant of COVID called Omicron.

PM opening statement at COVID-19 press conference 27 November 2021

This variant has extensive mutations from previous versions of the COVID virus – so we need to take urgent actions to keep ourselves and our Birmingham communities safe and reduce spread.

WEAR a face covering

Face coverings MUST be worn in shops and other similar businesses such as banks, post offices and personal care venues like hairdressers, as well as on public transport. Government has confirmed that this is enforceable by law – and people may face fines if they don’t follow the rules. Where face coverings are not mandatory, you are still encouraged to wear yours in crowded indoor places to help keep you safe. People with certain medical conditions will continue to be exempt from face coverings.

Face coverings: when to wear one, exemptions, and how to make one

KNOW the new isolation rules

If you come into contact with someone who tests positive with a suspected case of Omicron you will have to self-isolate for ten days, even if you’re fully vaccinated.

Please use the NHS COVID-19 App which is the fastest way to know if you’ve been exposed to COVID.

NHS COVID-19 App

Travel update

If YOU are planning to travel or receive visitors from abroad, please be aware the government is bringing in measures to prevent new COVID cases from abroad – CHECK these, as this might affect YOUR plans.

Measures to prevent new COVID cases from abroad

Continue keeping BRUM safe!

By practicing key safer COVID behaviours and actions, we can continue to protect ourselves AND others – and help reduce the virus spreading:

  • Let fresh air in if you meet indoors. Meeting outdoors is safer
  • Wear a face covering where mandatory – and in crowded and enclosed spaces, where you come into contact with people you don’t normally meet
  • Get COVID tested and self-isolate if required
  • If you haven’t already, get COVID vaccinated – as this is still the BEST defence against the virus

Coronavirus: how to stay safe and help prevent the spread

Get COVID tested

Get COVID vaccinated

Vaccinations

COVID jab walk-in centres across Birmingham

Book YOUR COVID vaccination appointment online

2. UPDATED GUIDANCE: COVID-19: management of staff and exposed patients and residents in health and social care settings (information for all providers)

This guidance covers the management of staff, patients and residents who have been exposed to COVID-19. It has been updated for people identified as a suspected or confirmed case of the Omicron variant of COVID-19. Including updated advice on PCR testing.

The full guidance can be found below:

COVID-19: management of staff and exposed patients and residents in health and social care settings

3. Adult Social Care Infection Control and Testing Fund: round 3 (October 2021 to March 2022) – Care Home and CQC Registered Community Care allocations (information for all providers with CQC registered locations in Birmingham)

Further to the government announcement of the above fund, the Council is distributing funding to Birmingham located care homes and CQC registered community care locations.

The grant conditions are set out in letters that have distributed to providers. In a change from previous grants we do not require an Assurance Statement to be returned to us – by accepting and spending the grant it is deemed that the grant conditions have been understood and accepted. All locations are however required to submit 3 spending returns

Funding will be distributed in two payments (November 2021 and January 2022). Lists detail the first of these payments have been circulated. If you don't have copies, please email marketintelligence@birmingham.gov.uk - please review the lists to understand the total payment each location will receive and how this is made up of infection control, testing and vaccine elements. We expect payment to reach bank accounts within the next 7 working days.

N.B. funding will be withheld from those locations highlighted in yellow until they have complied with the grant conditions. The reason for non-compliance with the conditions is detailed in the ‘Notes’ column (either the Capacity Tracker has not been completed in two consecutive weeks, or the Infection Control and Testing Fund Extension (July to October 2021) spend return has not been submitted, or both). The absolute deadline for rectifying the above issues and becoming compliant with the grant conditions is 17 December 2021 after which the allocation will be permanently withdrawn.

We are aware there has been some recent technical issues with accessing the Capacity Tracker. Please be assured where there is evidence of this we will work positively with you to maximise the chance of receiving the funding. Please ensure you report all issues accessing the system to the Capacity Tracker Help Line; 0191 691 3729. Where you have been able to log in and make updates, we don’t believe you will have been effected by this issue, which relate to logging in.

4. REMINDER Resources for COVID-19 booster and flu vaccinations for social care staff (information for all providers)

Two Q&A leaflets have been issued, focusing on COVID-19 booster and flu vaccinations this winter. You can download all care staff winter vaccine materials below, including posters, social media graphics, and stickers.

A new winter vaccines communications toolkit is also available, featuring case studies, expert blogs, and a range of materials to promote flu and COVID-19 boosters.

5. REMINDER Compulsory Vaccination of Care Home Staff – ensuring applications for medically exempt COVID passes have been started by your staff (information for all Care Homes)

As we have now passed the 11 November deadline requiring all Care Home staff and visiting professionals to be double vaccinated, please find attached a 'Do not enter' poster for the attention of unvaccinated care home workers & visiting professionals which you may find useful to display in your Care Home.

For any staff self-certifying as having a medical exemption, please ensure they have started the process of applying for a COVID pass stating they are medically exempt. This process may take a number of weeks, therefore it is important to monitor your staffs progress towards attaining this before the deadline of 24 December 2021, after which staff that are not double vaccinated or have a COVID pass stating they are medically exempt will no longer be able to work in your care home. Business continuity plans will need to be kept under review as the 24 December 2021 deadline approaches. The process for staff to follow to gain a COVID pass for a medical exemption is detailed in the following guidance;

COVID-19 medical exemptions: proving you are unable to get vaccinated

If you find you are experiencing staffing difficulties, then please do get in touch with your Area Commissioners at the earliest opportunity. Contact details of your Area Commissioners can be found below;

Who to contact in the commissioning team | Birmingham City Council

6. REMINDER Please ensure all vaccination information on the Capacity Tracker is up to date – Confirmation pop up added to the system (information for all providers)

Please ensure you are regularly updating the Capacity Tracker with COVID-19 vaccination information, including booster vaccinations and flu vaccinations.

For top tips on what information should be entered and where, please see our previous bulletin item below;

Bulletin 63, Item 4 - Capacity Tracker update for Care Home staff regarding COVID exemption self-certification and those vaccinated abroad

Please note, a new confirmation pop-up has been added for Care Homes and Home Care provider in the Capacity Tracker. This has been added at the request of the Department of Health and Social Care as part of an additional assurance check that information provided reflects the 'current' position at your location(s). When saving the Daily Cost, Vacancies and Business Continuity page for Care Homes and the COVID 19 Daily Update page for Home Care, providers will now be asked to confirm that the information provided on the page has been reviewed and reflects the current position of the location. For Care Homes, this includes the COVID vaccination exemptions, vaccinated abroad, and booster dose information provided for all staff and residents.

The Capacity Tracker can be accessed below. If you need help or guidance in updating this information please contact the Capacity Tracker Support Team on 0191 691 3729 or email necsu.capacitytracker@nhs.net.

Capacity Tracker

IN OTHER NEWS …………….

7. Level 2 Cold Weather Alert between 9 am on Wednesday 1 December and midnight on Saturday 4 December (information for all providers)

Another Level 2 Met Office Cold Weather Alert has been issued for the West Midlands. There is a 60% probability of severe cold weather between 9 am on Wednesday 1 December and midnight on Saturday 4 December. This weather could increase the health risks to vulnerable patients and disrupt the delivery of services.

Met Office Cold Weather Alert

Please share the following information and attached guidance with your staff, service users, communities and partner networks to help ensure that citizens - particularly those who are most vulnerable ­- are adequately prepared:

Cold weather alert
Region Warning Level Risk Comments
West Midlands Level 2 (Yellow) 60% Showers, likely wintery on hills Wednesday. Cold overnight, a chance of more widespread sleet or snow for a time early Thursday, but becoming dry and bright by day. Feeling cold with a brisk wind. Sleet or snow mainly on hills overnight into Friday.

In addition, please be aware that you can sign up to the Met Office email alert service via the following link:

https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/about-us/guide-to-emails

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