1. The NHS programme for vaccination of staff and request from CEOs for ‘scientific evidence’ to reassure staff about COVID vaccine safety

On 20 November 2020 NHS England sent a letter to all NHS Leaders titled “COVID-19 vaccination deployment strategy and operational readiness”.

The letter sets out what the NHS and the Government will provide nationally, and what NHS organisations working with local government and other partners are expected to deliver locally.

The key messages are as follows:

  • NHS Trusts must be ready to start vaccinating from the beginning of December.
  • There are three deployment models (a) NHS Trusts (b) Large scale vaccination sites and (c) Community/primary care led.
  • Local systems working with regional teams are required to determine which model or combination of models is required to deliver the vaccine to their local populations.
  • Which Vaccine?-Different vaccines are likely to be better suited to different settings because the vaccines are likely to have different storage and administration requirements.
  • All Trusts will need to have a plan to vaccinate their workforce.
  • Annex 1 of the letter lists all the NHS Trusts that are ‘Vaccine Hubs’ and they are required to vaccinate their staff and also to support neighbouring trusts to vaccinate their workforce
  • Note: Trusts have been asked to make sure they complete their staff flu vaccination programme by end of November in order to meet the required time gap between receiving a flu vaccine and a COVID vaccine.
  • A national distribution service will purchase and deliver all necessary supplies, including PPE and critical clinical and non-clinical consumables, to vaccination sites across the country sufficient to offer vaccinations 7 days a week, 12 hours per day, including bank holidays.
  • Vaccination information for Trust staff will be recorded via the National Immunisation Vaccination System (NIVS) webapp or National Immunisation Management System webapp. It claims that the NIVS will help every part of the system reduce risk of interaction between flu and COVID vaccines, as well as ensure patients receive both doses in the correct timeframe.
  • A national call/recall system is being established.

On 24 November 2020 senior leaders were informed that they would, at least initially, be asked to use the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine subject to it receiving a licence.

The Health Service Journal (HSJ) published an article yesterday stating that NHS CEOs speaking at the HSJ Provider Virtual Summit have informed them they need more clarity that the Pfizer-BioNTech covid vaccine is safe so that they can reassure their worried staff. It was highlighted that there was a need for a statement from the ‘centre’ about the reasons why they say the vaccine is safe including ‘scientific evidence’.

Leeds Community Healthcare Trust CEO Ms. Stein is quoted as having said:

“People who know about vaccines, know about side-effects, feel that they don’t know enough about potential side-effects of the vaccine….they feel anxious and uncertain”

We would be interested to hear from BME staff who have decided that they do not want to receive the vaccine.

2. A Review of Surrey Heartlands CCG has discovered “microaggressions and insensitivities” towards BME Staff.

An article in the HSJ today detailed a report commissioned by the interim accountable officer Ms. Fuller after she took over in July.

The article states:

“The report into Surrey Heartland CCG also uncovered incidents of shouting, screaming and bullying among other inappropriate behaviour. And it was reported some staff were unwilling to accept Black Lives Matter events as important stating “all lives matter”.

The review also discovered a culture of denial and turning a blind eye to consistent concerns, with staff fearful of speaking up. In particular, the HR department was said to have been repeatedly told about the behaviour of one staff member, but had chosen to ignore to delay dealing with the issues”.

Then rather bizarrely the article then states:

“However, the review found “no evidence for widespread discriminatory practices” and “no clear evidence for a widespread culture of bullying and ill-treatment”-but it added the systems to deal with concerns had failed and there was a sense of ‘organisational inaction”

The report makes 21 recommendations including that the CCG should formally acknowledge concerns raised by staff over microaggressions towards colleagues from BME backgrounds.

How can this not be a discriminatory practice or is it the fact that they are content with the finding it is not “widespread”.

Why are we not surprised?

3. Westminster Health Forum Policy Conference-9 December 2020

The Westminster Health Forum has invited Dr. Vivienne Lyfar-Cissé, Chair NHS BME Network, to speak at its policy conference on 9 December 2020 titled “Tackling ethnic minority inequality in healthcare-improving care outcomes and learning from COVID-19, addressing underlying causes, and priorities for leadership and the workforce”.

You will see from the updated draft agenda that the session is now being chaired by Kemi Badenoch MP, Minister for Equalities.

See you there!

4. LAST CHANCE-UK Government-Ethnic disparities and inequality in the UK: call for evidence

The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities has been asked by the government to review ethnic disparities and inequality in the UK, focusing on education; employment and enterprise; health and crime and policing.

To understand why disparities exist in these sectors the Commission is inviting submissions of evidence to provide answers to 10 questions. Click here to access the information.

 It is important that we participate in this exercise and as such we would like to encourage you to do so. You have until Monday 30 November 2020 at 11:45pm to submit your responses.