Luton and Beds health chiefs are 'leading the local fight' against coronavirus

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Health chiefs across Bedfordshire are leading the way in the local fight against the virus which is sweeping across the globe.

Amid constantly updated government advice, the county’s clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) will monitor their response at scheduled meetings in public this week.

But those proceedings will be held in private to ensure public safety and for a fuller debate about the spread of coronavirus and how local needs can be met.

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In an official statement on their websites Luton and Bedfordshire CCGs said: “The CCG will be holding the scheduled governing body meeting for March in private.

Coronavirus | jpimedia

“This shorter private meeting is in response to the coronavirus outbreak, as it will reduce the risk of transmission.

“It will also help clinical attendees focus on their response to the outbreak.”

Luton CCG was due to meet at Youthscape in Luton on Tuesday, (March 17th) while Bedfordshire CCG opted for a new venue, the Forest Centre at Marston Moretaine, on Thursday. (March 19th)

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The decisions were confirmed in an email from the joint communications team which said: “Due to the coronavirus, we are only convening the governing bodies for Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes (BLMK) to discuss the coronavirus in private.”

The governing board meetings usually update the public and media about various aspects of the CCG’s activity, including pressures on services, commissioning performance, relevant health trends, finance and joint working groups.

Although sparsely attended, they fall under the coverage of the local democracy reporting service and attract significant interest from patient groups in circumstances such as the current crisis.

The CCGs are accountable to NHS England and also have aspects of their performance scrutinised by Luton Borough Council, Central Bedfordshire Council and Bedford Borough Council.

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As well as the three local authorities contributing to a joint health working group, the CCGs have representatives on the council’s health and wellbeing boards or are held to account by other committees where issues overlap.

Meanwhile, local communities are grouping together to support each other if the situation worsens.

South West Bedfordshire Labour Party showed its support on social media for the Houghton Regis and Dunstable Community Action Group.

Its tweet read: “Covid-19 … do you need support? Are you self-isolating? Can you help others in need?

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“Please join the page set up specifically to help our communities help each other.”

CBC Labour Parkside councillor Antonia Ryan showed her support in a tweet, saying: “This group is setting up to assist the community in supporting each other during the coronavirus pandemic.”

The Facebook page of Luton Community Action has shown a similar example of community bonding, where offers of help can be posted.

Luton Borough Council’s deputy leader and Labour Farley councillor Sian Timoney tweeted: “Please consider joining Luton Community Action Group on Facebook.

“Set up by ⁦Scott Eastwood, it’s going to be vital in helping people through the coronavirus crisis, particularly if over 70s are isolated as suggested. Thank you.”