Community connectors Coronavirus

Public Involvement fortnightly news briefing: 20 November 2020

20 November 2020

This briefing will be produced fortnightly, and is aimed at patient leads, public members, voluntary and community sector (VCS) leads and community group leads in Sussex.

The NHS is committed to keeping people informed, ensuring that communities have the information they need, in the right format, and at the right time. We know that our patient leaders, VCS and community organisations are all working exceptionally hard to support local people, and that they are key to working together to make sure that our communities have the support and information they need.

People are being urged to Keep Sussex Safe in new national restrictions

Health and care organisations across Sussex are all working together to protect and support our local communities.

Everyone can do their part to restrict the spread of the virus. Stay at home if you can, keep a distance and protect each other when you have to go out. People are being urged to Keep Sussex Safe.

How will services change?

Some local council services will change during the restrictions to follow national guidance.

Find out more about any changes to services in:

NHS services remain open and are here for you.

If you have an appointment, please continue to attend as normal. You don’t need to call to check that a booked appointment is going ahead.  You will be contacted directly if anything changes with your appointment.

All services remain available – GP practices are open, you can call 111 and you should attend any appointment that is booked unless you hear directly from the service.

Find out more about NHS services at this time.

COVID-19 Vaccination Preparedness

You may have seen recent media reports that the NHS is seeking to recruit 40,000 vaccinators and volunteers to help to deliver a COVID-19 vaccination programme as soon as a safe and effective vaccine become available.

The Government has asked the NHS to be ready to deliver a vaccination programme for England from December. In Sussex, detailed planning is well progressed, building on the expertise and strong track record the NHS has already in delivering immunisations like the annual flu vaccination programme.

Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust is the lead provider for the vaccination programme across the county and will be responsible for coordinating and running the programme and delivering it alongside GPs and other health and care partners. The government recently set out a new contractual arrangement for GPs and their teams that is currently being discussed through which they can support the programme.

A priority in all our planning is to ensure that it is as easy as possible for eligible people to access a vaccination when they become available. The NHS, working with partners, will deliver the vaccine through a network of locations, for example to vulnerable and housebound people in their own homes, at community clinics and at large scale sites.

Eligibility for the vaccine will be prioritised by the Government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, based on the latest evidence of vaccine effectiveness and clinical characteristics. The most recently published advice is that vaccines should first be given to care home residents and staff, followed by people aged over 80 and health and social care workers, before being rolled out to the rest of the population in order of age and risk.

Rolling out the vaccine as quickly as possible will mean recruiting many more staff and volunteers, to ensure the NHS can continue to maintain other vital services. Parliament recently changed the law to allow a wider group of people to undertake training to deliver vaccines, including paramedics, physios, pharmacy and dental professionals and healthcare scientists – many of whom currently work outside the NHS.

Vaccinators are being recruited as well as stewards, administrators and patient transport and liaison volunteers, working in partnership with St John’s Ambulance. In all cases, appropriate training, supervision and PPE will be provided to ensure the safety of staff, volunteers and those being vaccinated.

More information for those wanting to support this historic vaccination effort in Sussex is available at   

A national public information campaign will commence shortly. It will promote public understanding of the safety and effectiveness of vaccines and provide more information to the public on when and how they will be able to access a vaccine when one becomes available.

Please continue to attend flu clinics  

It’s not ‘just’ the flu: get your flu jab now if you are pregnant 

A senior nurse in Sussex is warning of the risks to pregnant people if they don’t have their flu jab. 

Catching flu is more than a cough, sore throat and runny nose and for pregnant people, it can cause serious complications including pneumonia and an increased the risk of a premature birth and low birth weight. 

Pregnancy naturally weakens the body’s immune system, which means flu can cause complications for pregnant women as they are less able to fight off infections, increasing the risk of them and their unborn baby becoming ill. 

Antibodies are passed on to the developing baby during pregnancy so getting vaccinated can also help to protect your baby after birth.

The flu vaccine can be given safely at any stage of pregnancy. It cannot give you flu because it does not contain any live flu viruses. Some people experience mild side effects such as a slightly raised temperature, aching muscles for a couple of days afterwards, or soreness at the injection site. 

If you are pregnant, speak to your GP, midwife, pharmacist or maternity services to find out how to get the vaccination.

Big Health and Care (Socially Distancing) Conversation

As part of the Big Health and Care (Socially Distancing) conversation, we are asking the public and local community groups to help play a key role in helping us understand people’s experiences of care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We want to make sure that we understand what it has been like for people if they have needed to use health and care services during COVID across Sussex – what has worked well, and what could have been better? If you didn’t access services when you thought you needed to, why not? What changes should we maintain, and what needs to go back to normal as much as possible?

To feed in your views and experiences, you can:

  • Visit the website and share your experience, ask questions, and more!
  • Email the team at or call us on 01903 708411
  • Write to us at: FREEPOST RTUZ-ECYG-ERRK, Attn: Public Involvement Team, NHS Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group, Hove Town Hall, Norton Road, Brighton, BN3 4AH

Invite the Public Involvement Team to your (virtual) group meeting for us to hold a discussion to gather feedback – please do get in touch!

The Big Health and Care Conversation – outputs so far

As you know, we launched our Big Health and Care (Socially Distancing) conversation in July this year, seeking feedback to help us understand people’s experiences of health and care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This month we produced a report of our findings to date, and wanted to update you as to the impact this feedback has had so far.

  • Shaped by feedback from surveys carried out in April and in July we developed the ‘Help us, Help you’ leaflet, which provides information for the public about a range of services, available in different formats and languages on request.
  • Work has also begun to develop patient and clinician videos to develop confidence in participating in online appointments.
  • Based on the gaps in insight that were apparent, we have secured funding for a range of projects to help us better understand the experiences of those for whom health inequalities have been exacerbated by COVID-19.
  • As it became clear that black, Asian and minority ethnically diverse communities were being disproportionately affected by COVID-19, we launched the BAME Disparity Programme, with the aim of better understanding the experiences and challenges of these communities, and using that information to inform and challenge our services to better support and protect them during the pandemic and beyond. The reports of this programme from the first phase of community engagement have been published and further work is underway to build on this feedback and take action.  A series of informative webinars for the public has been arranged over four months from October, each with a different theme, and a virtual conference has been held for staff.
  • A COVID-19 bereavement leaflet has been co-designed by the SHCP and colleagues including Sussex Police and coroners to provide information to help people who lose loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of this work, a helpline was also established to provide further information, advice and support.
  • The Big Debate: The emerging themes from the Big Health and Care Conversation have been around wellbeing and delayed care. The Big Debate has focused in on these issues and drawn out more detail, and this week we will begin a series of online workshops where Sussex residents will deliberate wellbeing, in terms of the services and therapies available to improve wellbeing and responsibilities for keeping the population well. This is a new engagement mechanism for us and we look forward to reporting on the findings in due course.

Thank you very much to those of you who have taken the time to contribute to the conversation so far, and please do continue to feed in your thoughts, experiences and suggestions about health and care services; your views are important and can make a difference.

‘Ask Us – Tell Us’

Healthwatch Sussex ‘Ask Us – Tell Us’ campaign is encouraging local people to ask questions about or share feedback on the health and care services they use in Lockdown 2.

Healthwatch are interested in your access to all services, for example:

Tell Us your experiences of health and care services

  • Is your access to health or care services easy or challenging?
  • Are you feeling more anxious or worried?
  • Are you affected by changes to care or support services?

 Ask Us so we can help you and others

  • How do I get support with food and essentials?
  • Are hospital outpatient appointments still running?
  • What if I have a dental problem?

Community Matters – Frequently Asked Questions

The Public Involvement Team have been answering questions from our communities in Sussex about accessing health and care services at this time through the Frequently Asked Questions.

You can read the Frequently Asked Questions via the Clinical Commissioning Groups websites.

Community Hubs

Community Hubs are run through our Local Authorities, District and Borough Councils, and voluntary and community sector partners in East and West Sussex. Community hubs are the contact point that people can turn to if they need extra help in coping with the effects of coronavirus or know someone else who needs help.

The Hubs have been supporting those who are on the “shielded” list by ensuring people have access to food and other support. The Hubs are also a key contact point for other residents who are vulnerable, in order to access wider community support, which may include help with shopping and money advice, but also support with reducing isolation through access to services such as telephone befriending.

Community Hubs also provide a place for people to find out about local volunteering opportunities.

Brighton and Hove Community Support Telephone: 01273 293117

West Sussex Support Team Telephone: 033 022 27980 (Lines are open 8.00am – 8.00pm)

Have your say on the Briefing

Since 27th March 2020, the Sussex NHS Commissioners Public Involvement Fortnightly News Briefing has been regularly circulated to patient leads, public members, voluntary and community sector (VCS) leads and community group leads in Sussex, to support the dissemination of information on COVID-19 to our wider communities.

We are keen to seek your views on the value of the Fortnightly News Briefing, and would appreciate if you could please complete a short survey by Friday 13th November 2020.

NHS Guidance

Access to NHS Services during COVID-19 Guide

Sussex NHS Commissioners has produced a guide to support you to access NHS services that are still here for you during COVID-19, which includes helpful information explaining how you may need to access services in a different way to stay safe.

This guide is also available in different languages and British Sign Language (BSL) on request by contacting the Public Involvement team on 01903 708 411.

You can find more information on getting the care and treatment you need here.

Help Us, Help You

Across Sussex, the NHS is working hard to respond to COVID-19 but the NHS is still here for you and it is still our responsibility to make sure you get the right care, in the right place, now more than ever.

While everyone is being told to stay at home, it can be hard to know what to do if you’re unwell.

Keeping it simple to stay safe in Sussex

Protect yourself and others

  • Take common-sense steps to reduce the risk of catching or spreading coronavirus. You can spread the virus even if you do not have symptoms.
  • Think Hands, Face, Space – washing your hands regularly, using a face mask in areas where social distancing is difficult, and keeping 2 metres’ space between you and others will all help to reduce the spread of the virus.
  • If you are experiencing coronavirus symptoms, please use the government portal to book a test. It is important that you and anyone you live with continue to self-isolate until you get a test result.

Get medical help if you need it

  • The NHS is open and here for you.
  • Please continue to attend appointments as advised. You don’t need to call to check that a booked appointment is going ahead. You will be contacted directly if anything changes with your care.
  • If you need medical help from your GP, contact them online or by phone to be assessed
  • For urgent medical help, contact NHS 111 online or by phone
  • If you think you need urgent dental treatment, call or email your dentist or call NHS 111 or use the NHS 111 online service if you cannot contact your dentist or you do not have one.
  • If it’s a serious or life-threatening emergency, call 999

Look after yourself

Keeping healthy means you’re less likely to get seriously ill from coronavirus.

  • Enjoy a balanced diet, exercise regularly and take action to lose weight if you need to
  • Get help to go smokefree
  • Drink sensibly – no more than 14 units a week over at least three days.
  • Get a flu jab if you’re eligible

You are more likely to achieve your goals with support. Get personalised support in your area: Brighton and Hove, East Sussex, West Sussex. There is also lots of information and practical advice about keeping healthy on the NHS website:

Look after your mental health

The pandemic is affecting us all in different ways. It is important to look after your mental health and get help if you need it.

  • Take time to relax and do things you enjoy
  • Stay connected with friends and family
  • Try to get enough sleep
  • Get help if things are worrying you

Get practical tips and help from Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust:

NHS Launches 40 “Long COVID” Clinics to Tackle Persistent Symptoms

The NHS will launch a network of more than 40 ‘Long COVID’ specialist clinics within weeks to help thousands of patients suffering debilitating effects of the virus months after being infected.

The clinics, due to start opening at the end of November, will bring together doctors, nurses, therapist and other NHS staff to physical and psychological assessments of those experiencing enduring symptoms.

The condition, which is thought to affect more than 60,000 people in the UK, can cause continuing fatigue, brain fog’, breathlessness and pain.

NHS England has provided £10 million to fund for the pioneering clinics, which will see patients who have been hospitalised, officially diagnosed after a test or reasonably believe they had COVID -19.

Ten sites have been earmarked for the Midlands, seven in the North East, six in the East of England, South West and South East respectively, five in London and three in the North West. We are currently reviewing how these clinics will be offered across Sussex.

Patients will be able to access services through a GP referral or referral from other healthcare professional, allowing doctors an opportunity to rule out any other possible underlying causes for symptoms, such as suspected stroke, lung cancers or respiratory conditions.

National Updates

The latest position in terms of confirmed cases of COVID-19, broken down into total UK cases and local areas, is updated daily.

The government has provided information on the new national restrictions that came into force from 5th November 2020, including what they mean for working from home and business closures, why they are being introduced and the financial support available.

Updated guidance has been produced for clinically extremely vulnerable people.

The government has secured 5 million doses of Moderna vaccine, and a new COVID-19 vaccine trial has begun.

The NHS COVID-19 app is available to download for free in England and Wales. Download it here.

Information on face coverings, when to wear one and how to make your own, can be found here.

Safer travel guidance for people using public transport can be found here.

Sussex NHS Commissioners Public Involvement Team

In April 2020, the Sussex NHS Commissioners Public Involvement team were repurposed as COVID-19 Community Connectors to support our people and communities across Sussex in accessing health and care services at a time of crisis. The COVID-19 Community Connectors team have now returned to the Public Involvement team, where the team will be working with partners in the Sussex Health and Care Partnership to support the Big Health and Care Conversation. The Sussex NHS Commissioners Public Involvement Weekly News Briefing and Frequently Asked Questions will also now be sent out bi-weekly.

You can contact the Public Involvement Team using the contact details below.


You can also raise issues through Healthwatch, which is an independent body responsible for gathering people’s views of health and social care services. Contact details are below:

Contact Details

If you have any questions, or if you need this brief in an alternative format, please contact the Public Involvement Team:

Deaf British Sign Language (BSL) users can use a Video Relay Service (VRS) called SignLive (a free app which connects deaf people to a qualified British Sign Language Interpreter before connecting you to one of the Public Involvement Team). This service is currently available every Thursday from 14:00-16:00. Please contact the Public Involvement team using the details above if this is not convenient.

Let us know what you need to see in this briefing, give us feedback on services and support related to COVID-19 and let us know about issues you are picking up from your communities.