There are many types of resources, but two key ones are always people and money.
The pandemic has already asked a lot of people working in all parts of the council in many personal and professional ways. The same is true for the wider community and groups across the public, voluntary and private sectors.
Equally, COVID-19 has had an unprecedented effect on national and local economic life, and may continue to do so for a long while yet, even if we are able to relax some of the most economically damaging restrictions.
B&NES has been particularly vulnerable to these effects, with its reliance on tourism and commercial estate rents. Despite amounts of money coming from central government, the council is having to look for immediate savings on a huge scale.
This chapter will focus more narrowly on the extra resources that might be needed to help the council play its role in the implementation the rest of this plan.
New resources associated with the LOMP
Extra resources have come down to the council from the centre to help implement this plan. B&NES received £849,000 of a national sum of £300M for all upper tier local authorities. There is relatively little guidance so far about how this is to be used, but given the activities in the plan, one can sketch out areas where it might be deployed.
Possible areas for deployment of resources
Adding to outbreak co-ordination and response capacity within council
There is now an expectation that the council will maintain a 24/7 on-call health protection capacity. This will require a consultant-level rota, and the ability to call on other Health-Protection-trained staff, to reinforce efforts of the nationally- and regionally-based teams. Much work can be done by PHE and the different levels of the Testing and Tracing system, but at times this capacity might be overloaded by the number of outbreaks in the region and need more support from localities. This may take forms such as the following:
- Managing outbreak control teams
- Chasing up tests and results
- Tracing contacts
- Communicating with local outbreak sites
- Supporting local outbreak sites
It is too early to say exactly which staff (and how many) could best be employed or redeployed, for the following reasons:
- The whole system of Test and Trace is only really now coming into being and building up to capacity
- We are in discussion across the region and across BSW to decide where is the best balance of locally and sub-regionally employed staff
But the categories of staff who might be added to existing capacity are Public Health consultants and Health Protection Officers who could be from Public Health, Environmental Health, or in some cases clinical, backgrounds.
In relation to mobile testing units, there may also be a small continuing call for support with traffic control and this may require a small amount of resourcing.
Adding to informatics capacity
B&NES has an exceptionally good, but very small, capacity to manage the torrent of COVID-19-related information that is coming into the council. The ability to process complex multi-source data in real time will be critical to success. Extra capacity from Public Health and Health-Protection-trained information officers may be valuable, or even essential, although such staff are hard to find.
Adding to communications and engagement capacity
A lot will be demanded of our small core team, both in putting out information and in managing the roles of the many different people and groups who need to be part of this effort. Some reinforcement of this team for the duration of the outbreak may be one of the most valuable things we could do.
Adding support to the humanitarian effort
The role of the Compassionate Community hub will continue to be important throughout the pandemic. However, it will also have to change, to balance COVID-19-related and other activities, as services get back to some sort of normality. A further option is adding some professional expertise and capacity to the co-ordination role of the hub, to ensure that the most vulnerable are protected.
These are not the only possible uses for the funds that have been earmarked, and it is likely that further guidance will come out as to what this can and can't be used for, but this is the beginning of a planning process to strengthen the council’s ability to manage the next stage of the pandemic.