UK COVID-19 Update: Pandemic Care Rated, Amber Travel 'Watchlist', Jab Incentives

Tim Locke

August 02, 2021

These are the UK coronavirus stories you need to know about today.

Pandemic Care Rated

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has published results of a study of care given to  510 COVID-19 patients in English hospitals.

Using a standardised but slightly modified Structured Judgement Methodology (mSJR) format, care was rated as adequate, good, or excellent for 96.5% of patients, and good or excellent for 77.4%.

Poor care was recorded in 3.5% of the total sample, and related to end of life care issues, hospital-acquired infections, assessment delays, poor communication, and poor documentation.

Dr John Dean, RCP clinical director for quality improvement and patient safety, said: "My colleagues in the NHS have been faced with unprecedented challenges during the pandemic but RCP’s study shows how almost all care provided has been of the right standard. We can, however, learn from excellent care, and variations in care, just as we can learn from poor care, and I am sure that this study will prove invaluable as we seek to learn from this extraordinary time."

'Pingdemic'

The NHS COVID-19 app's logic will be modified in England so that fewer people who are in contact with positive cases have to self-isolate.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the changes were "striking the right balance" between protecting people and reducing disruption.

Amber Travel 'Watchlist'

Isolation-free travel began today from the US and most EU countries.

Ministers are reported to be considering setting up an 'amber watchlist' to warn travellers about countries at risk of joining the red list at short notice.

Northern Ireland has seen 294 fraudulent applications for COVID-19 vaccination certificates, the head of the programme, Dr Eddie O'Neill, told the BBC.

The application system is back online after a data breach last week which allowed some people to see other users' information.

Primary Care Post Pandemic Funding

A report from the NHS Confederation's Primary Care Network (PCN) finds more funding, support, and autonomy is needed for PCNs post-pandemic.

Chair, Dr Pramit Patel, said: "Colleagues are clear there is a way to go, but with the right resource and space, PCNs can be invaluable in getting the NHS Long Term Plan back on track in driving forward expanded and improved services for patients, enhancing out of hospital care and supporting people to stay well in the community.

"With a sizeable elective treatment backlog and the population’s health having taken a hit during the pandemic, this agenda is more important than ever."

The Royal College of General Practitioners announced today that Professor Dame Clare Gerada will be its next president from 20 November. She served as college chair 2010-2013.

In May, Professor Gerada told Medscape UK the GP Crisis "is as serious a problem as COVID and has to be given as much attention as the pandemic".

European Cases 'Milestone'

The number of European COVID-19 cases has passed 60 million since the pandemic began, according to the World Health Organisation.

Dr Dorit Nitzan, regional emergency director for Europe said: "The end of the pandemic is still over the horizon and sadly so far in the European region there have been more than 1.2 million COVID-19 deaths. It is important that countries continue their combined efforts to protect their most vulnerable people and those at risk. 

“Overall vaccination uptake varies widely between the Member States in the WHO European Region and the vaccination coverage amongst the priority population groups such as the over 60s, health care workers, people living in long-term care facilities, and those with underlying conditions is still low in a few countries.”

Dr Nitzan added: "For the pandemic to end we must rapidly scale up vaccinations equitably in all countries, including supporting vaccine production, as appropriate, and sharing of doses, as relevant, to protect the vulnerable population in every country.   

"In addition, we must continue to follow the public health and social measures including testing, sequencing, tracing, isolation and quarantine. As well as hand washing and wearing a mask and maintaining physical distancing in places that are crowded, confined and closed."

Jab Incentives

Discounts with fast food delivery firms and free rides to vaccination centres are the latest incentives on offer to help increase COVID-19 vaccination among young people.

At the weekend, Circus Extreme in Halifax was among the latest pop-up vaccination centres.

As of Saturday, 72.5% of adults were fully vaccinated, and 88.6% received a first dose.

The Telegraph reported that pharmacies will have a greater role in the autumn COVID-19 booster vaccination programme. JCVI is expected to publish final advice on the programme in the next couple of weeks.

'COVID-free' Railways

Two rounds of swab testing at four major railway stations by Imperial College London found no traces of COVID-19.

Escalator handrails, ticket machines, and benches were swabbed, and air samples were taken on concourses at London Euston, Birmingham New Street, Liverpool Lime Street, and Manchester Piccadilly stations, and some train routes in January and June.

David Green, senior research fellow, said: "In the same way that a swab is used to take a COVID-19 test in the nose and throat and sent to the lab, we use a filter to collect any virus particles in the air and swabs to collect viruses on surfaces.

"This approach provides a way of quantifying the amount of virus circulating in these public environments and the effect of mitigation strategies like cleaning and wearing face coverings. This is part of a wider programme of work with the public transport sector to understand where this virus is most prevalent so that we can return to pre-pandemic activities as safely as possible."

Private Staff Pandemic Pay

Unison is calling for porters and other health staff employed through private companies to get the same 3% pay rise as NHS staff.

General Secretary, Christina McAnea, said: "Thousands of cleaners, porters, and caterers have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic, alongside their NHS colleagues.

"NHS staff have the benefit of a national pay system, but those not directly employed are missing out, often because of complex contracting arrangements, penny-pinching practices and the hard-nosed pursuit of profit."

Australia's Lockdown

Unarmed soldiers are on patrol in Sydney to enforce lockdown measures alongside local police.

New South Wales recorded a 16-month high in cases last week.

Door-to-door visits are being made to make sure people who test positive are isolating.

See more global coronavirus updates in Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Centre.

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