The Corona virus pandemic in Dorset

Concerns about the discharge of patients into Care Homes

Freedom of Information Act requests showed that 270 people were discharged from Dorset hospitals, untested, into Dorset Care homes during the first wave of the Corona virus pandemic.

The Office for National Statistics database showed that, on 29 May 2020, 329 people had died of COVID-19 in Dorset. This included 157 patient deaths in Dorset care homes, a slightly higher number than the 154 patients who had died of COVID-19 in Dorset hospitals.

Nationally, it will be remembered, there were concerns related to timely access to adequate PPE, particularly in Care Homes.

The need to free up acute hospital beds for C19 patients also meant that planned operations were cancelled.

Corona virus – Second Wave

As a result of a sharp increase in the numbers of Corona virus cases in the Dorset Council area this Autumn, there remain concerns that people are being discharged from Dorset Hospitals, despite positive C19 tests, into Dorset Care Homes, and whether those Care Homes will be able to keep other residents, and staff, safe. There are also concerns about people being discharged to their own homes without adequate care packages in place. Outside of hospitals, the poor availability of staff able to prescribe and administer palliative care, and indeed of palliative care equipment and medication, remains a very serious concern. At the very least, in the 21st century, we would hope that terminally ill people do not have suffer or die in pain, or alone.

On November 5 2020, Public Health Dorset reported 350 Corona virus cases in the Dorset Council area for the period 25 – 31 of October, reflecting a sharp increase in the numbers of cases since early September (17 cases for the period 9 – 15 September). As of 4 November 2020, there were 113 Corona virus patients in hospital beds in Dorset, compared to 85 patients on 27 October 2020.

The C-19 Symptom Study App, endorsed by the Royal College of Surgeons, the Royal College of General Practitioners and followed by the Scottish and Welsh Governments and NHS Wales and England, estimated 441 Corona virus cases in Purbeck alone on November 12 2020, 453 cases in West Dorset and 244 cases in North Dorset.

The App on 12 November 2020 had 4,387,221 contributors, providing data collected and analysed by Kings College London. Professor Tim Spector of Kings College London leads the research team and reports weekly online.

There is, therefore, clear evidence of a Second Wave of the Pandemic affecting Dorset, evidenced from a range of sources in the public domain.

Concerns about test and trace

Test and Trace in Dorset, as a local Councillor and GP pointed out at a joint Health Scrutiny Committee meeting held in the summer, requires making use of Public Health professionals who know their locality rather than outsourced workers employed by SERCO or Deloitte.

On the 16 October 2020, however, during a Dorset COVID-19 Public update held live online, in response to a question from the public, it was made clear that the outsourcing model would remain in place.

Concerns about Serco/Deloitte Test and Trace are highlighted on a regular basis by national media outlets.

There are, therefore, both concerns about the management of COVID-19 in Dorset, and concerns related to the consequences of the Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group’s Clinical Services Review (CSR).