Ensuring that frontline clinicians are safe is crucially important and the PPE guidance, jointly developed with the NHS and the devolved administrations, is kept under constant review and there will be a further communication on this shortly.
There are around 1.5 million people who face the highest risk from coronavirus. These are extremely vulnerable people due to their very specific and serious health conditions and are the people we need to support and protect the most. We cannot stress enough the importance of shielding as a strategy to protect the extremely vulnerable during this unprecedented outbreak, with the most important measure being to stay at home at all times for at least 12 weeks and strictly reduce the number of individual contacts whenever possible.
NHS England is writing to every person in this category to provide information about how to access care and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, working with local government, has set out several new services to support them, including a helpline and a new Local Support System that will make sure that those who are self-isolating at home and without a support network of friends and family receive what they need. You can access PHE’s guidance on shielding here.
It is phenomenal that more than 640,000 people have already signed up to volunteer to support the NHS, playing a crucial role in delivering food and medicines, driving patients to appointments, and phoning people to check they are alright during their time at home.
And finally, the Government has this week published the results of the 2019 Civil Service People Survey including for PHE. There is much to be encouraged by these with our highest response rate so far at 81% and a further overall improvement in the staff engagement index, which is the benchmark for whether colleagues feel we are getting most things right. But there are of course themes for improvement and areas of our organisation that need more attention and we shall definitely focus on these. The whole organisation response to COVID-19 speaks to the strength and breadth of our contribution and I am immensely proud of this and our people. The importance of respect, decency and kindness, looking after and out for each other could not be clearer and this matters very much to me.
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