We are open seven days a week at the NCHA to support you throughout the Covid-19 crisis. If you need us, contact us as usual at [email protected].
In today’s update:
1. NEW sector guidance – audiology and otology during Covid-19
The AIHHP, BAA, BSA and BSHAA have today updated their 9 April Covid-19 guidance.
The new guidance provides greater clarity on services which can be provided safely by audiologists during the pandemic. This includes an update on guidance on wax management and how to perform clinical procedures within 2m where clinically necessary.
The guidance states:
It goes on to provide a framework to meet audiological needs during the pandemic. The update also clarifies what to do in the event of medical emergencies and how to provide domiciliary care and perform a risk assessment. Read the updated guidance.
The BSHAA has also confirmed that the “guidance has been collated with input from the Infection Control Society and ENT UK” and that there will be a webinar on 5 May at 4pm to guide audiologists through common FAQs. You can submit questions in advance to [email protected] by 12:00 noon on Tuesday 5th May. Learn more.
2. Covid-19 official guidance
We have converted our longstanding quick guide to official guidance into a pdf which you can use to keep up to date with official government, public health and healthcare Covid-19 guidance. Access it here.
3. Covid-19 testing – update
Last week the government announced that all essential workers in England and members of their households who show symptoms of coronavirus can get tested. This week it added capacity, with mobile testing units and extended testing to new groups. Our current understanding is that audiologists that have coronavirus symptoms and cannot work from home are eligible to apply for a test. Learn more.
There are now three drive-through test sites in Northern Ireland for essential or key workers. Learn more.
NHS staff and independent contractors providing NHS care are eligible for testing. Learn more.
Health and social care workers with symptoms of Covid-19 are now eligible for testing. Learn more.
4. NHS update – England
NHSE-I has published a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), which applies to all providers of community health services in England operating within the NHS Standard Contract. This includes community audiology. The SOP clarifies the expected approach to the management of patients during the Covid-19 pandemic. Read the SOP.
New guidance from PHE
Public Health England published a new guide this week to help people deliver domiciliary care safely. The guide includes more detail on the use of PPE. Read more.
Simon Stevens letter – second phase of Covid-19 response
On Thursday, NHSE-I set out the second phase of the NHS response to Covid-19. The letter focuses on hospital and GP care, but starts to make early and cautious progress towards restarting some elective procedures. Read the letter or read a summary by the BBC.
The letter also refers to concerns about people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds “being disproportionately affected by Covid-19” and confirms Public Health England will investigate this in more detail. In the meantime, NHSE-I note that “on a precautionary basis” it recommends “employers should risk-assess staff at potentially greater risk and make appropriate arrangements accordingly”.
The Nuffield Trust has also written a short piece on interpreting current Covid-19 data and its impacts on BAME people. Read more.
5. The next phase – understanding R and scenario planning
The Scottish and Welsh governments published frameworks last week on how they will make decisions to ease restrictions. And yesterday Boris Johnson announced there would be a “comprehensive plan” next week on how to “get our economy moving”.
You will also now hear more about ‘R’ – the reproduction rate (or reproductive ratio). R is the figure which governments around the world are likely to use to monitor the impact of easing restrictions.
Put simply, governments want to keep this number below one in order to avoid an exponential increase in the number of Covid-19 cases and being forced into another severe lockdown.
This strategy will involve constant Covid-19 testing and modelling scenarios as each country ‘experiments’ with easing lockdown restrictions. For example, if R stays below one then, other things being equal, those parts of the economy allowed to reopen would mostly likely continue, but if R increased, new restrictions might be put in place.
The way forward
At the NCHA we will continue to monitor, analyse and scenario plan on behalf of members and the sector. We will be writing to members with some guidance on local scenario planning to help you navigate through the crisis. In the meantime, you can also contact us in the normal way; we are here to help you navigate through this crisis.
6. Finance update – Bounce Back Loan
This week the government announced its coronavirus Bounce Back Loan scheme, to help small and medium sized businesses access loans of between £2,000 and £50,000. The scheme will launch on 4 May.
The loan will be interest free for the first year and 100% backed by government with loan terms of up to six years. The government is working with lenders to secure a low rate of interest for the entire loan period. Learn more about eligibility criteria.