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'Health protection system has helped save lives'

Column by leader of Lincolnshire County Council Martin Hill

Now that we’re working towards more local management of Covid-19 cases, the county council, as the lead public health authority, has developed a local outbreak management plan.

Lincolnshire has so far seen a relatively low transmission of the disease and has a well-established health protection system that has helped save lives. Working with key partners, we now have a local plan to contain the virus going forward and reduce its spread, supported by the national NHS Test and Trace programme.

Coun Martin Hill, leader of Lincolnshire County Council. (14784599)
Coun Martin Hill, leader of Lincolnshire County Council. (14784599)

We are monitoring a wide range of numbers including the results of local testing, hospital admissions for the disease and sickness absence rates in some of our bigger employers. It’s currently felt that Lincolnshire is more likely to be in a position where smaller-scale outbreaks occur and individual places, like a school, care home or workplace, would be asked to take steps to manage the disease.

But we remain vigilant and residents can help by taking sensible precautions and following the social distancing rules. If you develop symptoms you and your household should isolate and contact NHS Test and Trace.

From the start of the pandemic we have been in constant contact with care homes. Our infection prevention and control team have provided quick, effective support when outbreaks have occurred. We’ve recognised the need to support care homes with increased costs and recently distributed £10.45m funding from government to help reduce and prevent coronavirus outbreaks and protect residents. We’ve also helped with training, accessing coronavirus test kits and PPE and providing digital technology to help families keep in touch.

While we have sadly seen some deaths in our care homes due to Covid-19, it’s heartening to see that all this good work has meant a comparatively low number of deaths compared to other areas. We are fully behind the call for further support for our care sector to ensure it is well prepared in the coming months and years.

The government has recently announced £25.8m for Greater Lincolnshire from the ‘getting building’ fund. Our local enterprise partnership has a priority list of projects to bring forward quickly so communities will feel the benefits rapidly. During these times we need to invest in projects that give businesses the best chance of increased resilience and give residents good quality job opportunities, now and in the future. So we will also be lobbying for longer term funding for larger projects for sustained growth in our county.

Devolution has been a long standing ambition for all the councils in Greater Lincolnshire and we need to explore the opportunities further.However, it’s important that any changes take into account our local circumstances. What works in a big city may not be suitable for our rural county.

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