Norman’s Notes 2021

Normans Notes

Well, this is not the start to 2021 that anyone would want, but I am confident we can meet the challenges head on and move forward. 

Covid-19 latest

The current public health situation is very challenging and the NHS in the South East is under acute pressure. Indeed, the Sussex Resilience Forum, with whom Sussex councils partner in emergency responses, declared a major incident on Wednesday afternoon at 2pm. This was necessary due to the acute pressures caused by Covid-19 especially on the NHS and ambulance services and these conditions are expected to worsen in the coming days.

This is a recognised response to severe pressures and allows local partners to seek additional support from elsewhere as required, but it does highlight the seriousness of the situation locally.

To provide some context, here is a short quote from the SRF:

“The same decision has been taken by several other local resilience forums in the South East.

The Sussex Resilience Forum (SRF) which co-ordinates and communicates between health, emergency services, local authorities and other partners, agreed to declare the incident from 2pm today in response to the high and increasing rate of infection across Sussex and to allow public services to make exceptional preparations for a potentially worsening situation.

A major incident is a recognition of national demand and puts all agencies in Sussex in the best possible position to come together to tackle the virus. It is a well-recognised and rehearsed escalation that can be expected at times of exceptional need – a major incident was also in place during the summer of 2020.”

Infection rates in Mid Sussex have risen rapidly in recent weeks, are above the national average and are the highest they have been at any point during the pandemic. In much of the north of Mid Sussex, infection rates now are comparable to those seen in Kent in early to mid December.

The current situation sadly means, that those people at greatest risk are the same people, who in some cases, are just weeks away from being vaccinated and afforded a high degree of protection.

It is essential that our communities follow the new restrictions to bring infection rates down, in order to protect the NHS, as is the message from government. However, in bringing infection rates down we will also be protecting our businesses and economic activity, which will be the way to support a strong recovery.

Below, is an “at a glance” guide to the new rules and more detailed guidance can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-lockdown-stay-at-home 

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Vaccination programme

The excellent news that we now have two approved vaccines in the UK gives us all hope. Public expectations are understandably very high, but on the ground, the distribution of vaccine is challenging due to worldwide shortage of components and therefore, roll out will take time. 

The NHS is solely responsible for the vaccination programme but councils are supporting this herculean effort, by facilitating availability of large venues across the nation.

The first vaccinations in Mid Sussex took place last week. The NHS is seeking to open further vaccination centres on a phased basis, each of which have to go through an extensive assessment, approvals and readiness process, before delivery of vaccinations can start. 

Some residents are very anxious about when they might receive a vaccine. It is important to say that residents should wait to be contacted by the NHS, who will offer appointments based on the priority criteria.

Further information can also be found at:

https://www.sussexhealthandcare.uk/keepsussexsafe/sussex-covid-19-vaccination-programme/ 

Further business grants

The Chancellor has announced further one-off grants of between £4,000 and £9,000 (depending on rateable value) to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses, that are required to be closed. These new grants are intended to top up the existing monthly grants for businesses that have been forced to close. 

Additional discretionary funding is being made available so Councils can continue to support other impacted businesses. We have ensured that Mid Sussex’s policy on discretionary grants is deliberately wide ranging, so that it supports as many businesses as possible, including those who fall outside the criteria for other grant schemes.

Grant applications can be made via www.midsussex.gov.uk/revsandbens/business-rates/discretionary-business-grants/ 

MSDC services

MSDC services are continuing to operate as usual with almost all staff working from home. Priority will continue to be given to key services such as waste and recycling, homelessness and benefits. Due to the cold weather, MSDC has triggered the Severe Weather Emergency Procedure to help rough sleepers. If you know of a rough sleeper, please alert MSDC by completing a Streetlink referral at: www.streetlink.org.uk  

West Sussex Community Hub

Residents requiring additional support should continue to be directed to the West Sussex Community Hub on 0330 222 7980. It is open 7 days a week 8am-8pm. We are very aware that residents on furlough might be struggling in a variety of ways, but help is available.

Mental health support is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, by calling the Sussex Mental Healthline on 0800 0309 500.

Mid Sussex Wellbeing

Please don’t forget that the Wellbeing Service is available to help with weight management, alcohol reduction, smoking cessation, stress and resilience, food and mood etc.

Further information at: www.midsussex.westsussexwellbeing.org.uk 

Author: fiona bewers
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