09 Mar 2020

Sarah O'Brien, Director of People's Services and Clinical Accountable Officer, updates on what has been happening across health and social care in St Helens, including Covid-19.

Hi everyone

It’s been a few weeks since I last blogged and lots has happened since then – notably the major public health issue, Coronavirus (Covid-19).  As of today (Friday 6th March) there are over 20 confirmed cases in the north west – and so far, none in St Helens, but we have spent the past few weeks planning and preparing our response to alongside our public health colleagues – something that is very much a joint approach.  I can’t stress how important it is to practice good hand hygiene and handwashing to prevent the spread and if you do suspect you have come into the contact with the virus and have symptoms – fever, dry cough, breathing difficulties – then you need to immediately self-isolate at home and contact the NHS 111 Coronavirus service www.nhs.uk/coronavirus who will advise you if you need testing and then of any other steps. Please don’t go to your GP surgery, UTC or A&E as we really want to keep our most vulnerable people safe.   Our communications teams will keep you updated on the local situation through our Facebook page and website.

Coronavirus aside, it’s still business as usual and as you may have read in the media, work continues on CAHMS (Children and Adolescent mental health service) waiting times with us working closely with our provider to tackle this and I am optimistic that we will improve and expand the offer to local children.  This week we officially launched Kooth.com for all our children and young people aged 11-25 in the borough - an online counselling and mental wellbeing service that we have commissioned which I hope will prove really key in helping with some of the issues this age group has.  An interim Director of Children’s Services has now been appointed and this appointment will bring capacity to the department during the continued improvement journey.

Also in Social care, Cllr Marlene Quinn put a motion to Council on Wednesday for the Chief Executive to write to the Prime Minister about the funding of adult social care and the need for a sustainable solution.  ALL councillors across all political parties supported this and there was an important discussion about the challenges facing our staff with councillors acknowledging the success of St Helens Cares and how valued our front line staff are in the face of real challenges.

I also welcomed some students from De La Salle School to the CCG on work experience during their half term. These students made contact with us after the health careers event we put on with the hospital trust last year and are keen to work for the NHS in some capacity in the future.   They experienced a real spread of what goes on in commissioning and providing health services.  We’re shortly about to deliver a similar event to promote careers in social care and I hope we have similar enthusiasm and uptake from our young people as they are the future of health and social care in St Helens.

Finally, week commencing 9th March is NHS England Integrated Care in Action Week.  This is exactly what we do well in St Helens and we will be focusing on how integration has really helped the way staff work and deliver improved outcomes for the people in St Helens through our social media channels #integratedcare.  Our Shared Care Record was a finalist at the Health Service Journal Partnership awards this month – and though we didn’t take home the top prize in the system and data integration, the judges said they were impressed with the benefits the project has delivered and continues to deliver for staff and residents of St Helens.  It certainly does, and is something I am very proud of being part of.

‘Til next time.

Sarah