The Director of Integrated Care (DIC) at the North East London Integrated Care Board (NEL ICB) presented an update on the NHS North East London Severe Weather System Response, which provided context as to:
In response to questions from Members, the DIC stated that:
The Cabinet Member (CM) for Adult Social Care and Health Integration (ASCHI) stated that there had not been enough analysis undertaken of who presented most during the severe weather periods, which she intended to look into at the Partnership Board and bring back to the Health Scrutiny Committee. Whilst data was available at a North East London level, she wanted to know what was happening at a local level. She also stated that a data sharing agreement between local partners was essential in helping to support all vulnerable patients during crises; all organisations needed to work with one definitive list, to ensure that no patient would miss out on support because they were on one organisation’s contact list, but not on another’s. A protocol needed to be developed, to ensure more effective planning.
The Integrated Care Director (ICD) at NELFT stated that it was important to define the term ‘vulnerability’ and what this meant in terms of actions that needed to be carried out. She also stated that extreme weather also led to the cancellation of clinical appointments, either because patients could not travel or the environments were too hot, for example due to the older buildings and lack of air conditioning. This would then delay patients’ treatment pathways, due to the inability to deliver the appointments and the higher ‘did not attend’ rates. The Borough Partnership would be useful to discuss potential improvement opportunities, with the Estates Group that sat under this also presenting an opportunity around how different infrastructure could be better employed to deliver services during crises.
In response to further questions from Members, the DIC stated that:
The ICD at NELFT also stated that NHS organisations were included on the Government’s ‘Must Do Must Supply’ energy list and that work had been conducted to identify critical sites within the NHS property. Whilst not every GP practice or community clinic would be a priority site for energy should there be any restrictions to energy supply, Barking Community Hospital had been identified as a priority site due to its urgent treatment facility. As such, planning was being undertaken around potential energy impacts and the ability to continue to deliver critical services during crises.
The DIC at NEL ICB stated that the majority of the NHS estate in Barking and Dagenham was either privately-owned or belonged to NELFT. NEL ICB had set up a local infrastructure forum, which reported through to the Barking and Dagenham Partnership Board and looked to co-ordinate improvement actions that were required around estates, such as to consolidate or to develop sites. Through the Estates team, it would also be looking at how it could either decommission older estates, re-provide services or potentially bring in capital to improve services.
The ICD at NELFT stated that NELFT was looking at a range of options to ensure that future clinics did not need to be cancelled due to severe weather, such as through temporarily moving air conditioning units. The capital flow across Northeast London was going to be tight, meaning that specific sites and venues would need to be prioritised and that this would be a balancing act in terms of available capital for infrastructure. It was hoped that the Borough Partnership would provide opportunities to enable all to think more collectively and creatively about infrastructure challenges.
The CM for ASCHI stated that the Borough Partnership would be pivotal in effective planning, for example through ensuring that services could be delivered in another building if required. Furthermore, uptake of the flu vaccine had been very low in comparison to the uptake of the Covid-19 vaccine, despite joint communications and publicity campaigns across North East London. The Director of Public Health provided a general update around uptake, noting the challenges in different cohorts. He also stated that it was likely that the impact of flu would be seen within the next couple of weeks, with likely excess pneumonia deaths and with a significant portion of these likely to be seen in those who had not been vaccinated.