So it’s ‘fears for tiers’ and assorted other attempts at pandemic humour which have dominated my mailbox this week and as I write the debate still rages over whether a Scotch Egg constitutes a ‘substantial meal’ with your pub pint, and does it stretch to vegan Scotch Eggs too?
Trying to grapple with these and many more serious questions flooding in from constituents led me to decide that I could not support the new regulations bringing back enhanced tiers to replace the national lockdown this week. I have always said that we need regulations to get on top of the virus and we will have to continue to suffer the infringements on our civil liberties and livelihoods until the vaccine roll-out changes the balance of risk, but we need clear, logical and consistent data and reasoning to go with it. Without that people will not have the full confidence to abide by the rules that we need everyone to follow.
But I can just not see the logic of our part of West Sussex, having gone into the lockdown in Tier 1 now being bundled into the more restrictive Tier 2. As at today there are fewer than 30 cases of COVID per 100,000 population in Worthing, apparently the lowest in the whole country (Sir Peter Bottomely and I take full credit of course.) Rates in all the neighbouring local authority areas are amongst the lowest in the region and still falling whilst our fantastic Worthing Hospital is looking after just 4 COVID patients, down from 8 the week before. We must all continue to be vigilant and Tier 1 certainly does not mean a return to ‘life as normal’ by any means but surely the Tier system does need to reflect life on the ground.
This week the Sussex Community NHS Trust will publish details of how the vaccination programme will be rolled out to Sussex residents. They will be the lead body and I have been very impressed with how much work has gone into preparing to vaccinate the whole population over the coming weeks and months starting with NHS and care staff and the most vulnerable elderly people. Do watch out for details of when and how you will be contacted for your jab.
Many of the Trust’s staff qualified to give vaccinations are working extra shifts and over weekends to minimise the impact on day to day services and I have thanked them on your behalf for all their hard work and dedication. In addition, they are recruiting volunteers from retired nurses and others who can be retrained to administer the jabs and have already recruited a number of former cabin crew staff for example. If you have some experience and would like to volunteer, then go the trust’s website at www.sussexcommunity.nhs.uk