01 May 2020
FODO Member update
We are open seven days a week at FODO to support you throughout the Covid-19 crisis. If you need us, contact us as usual at [email protected].
In today's update:
- The next phase - understanding R and scenario planning
- Finance update - Bounce Back Loan
- Covid-19 testing update
- NHS update - England and Scotland
- Official advice and guidance - quick access
1.The next phase - understanding R and scenario planning
The Scottish and Welsh governments published frameworks last week on how they will make decisions to ease restrictions. And yesterday Boris Johnson announced there would be a "comprehensive plan" next week on how to "get our economy moving".
You will also now to hear more about 'R' - the reproduction rate (or reproductive ratio). R is the figure which governments around the world are likely to use to monitor the impact of easing restrictions.
Put simply, governments want to keep this number below one, which means the number of Covid-19 cases is not increasing exponentially. Where R increases above one, a lockdown becomes more probable.
This strategy will involve constant Covid-19 testing and modelling scenarios as each country 'experiments' with easing lockdown restrictions. For example, if R stays below one then, other things being equal, those parts of the economy allowed to reopen would mostly likely continue, but if R increased new restrictions might be put in place.
If you would like a quick overview of 'R' you can read this BBC article, or this guide from Oxford University's Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine.
The way forward
At FODO we will continue to monitor, analyse and scenario plan on behalf of members and the sector. We will be writing to members with guidance on local scenario planning to help you navigate through the pandemic. In the meantime, you can also contact us by emailing [email protected]. We are here to help you navigate through this crisis.
2.Finance update - Bounce Back Loan
This week the government announced its coronavirus Bounce Back Loan scheme, to help small and medium sized businesses access loans of between £2,000 and £50,000. The scheme will launch on 4 May.
The loan will be interest free for the first year and 100% backed by government with loan terms of up to six years. The government is working with lenders to secure a low rate of interest for the entire loan period. Learn more about eligibility criteria.
3. Covid-19 testing - update
Last week the government announced that all essential workers in England and members of their households who show symptoms of coronavirus can get tested. This week it added capacity with mobile testing units and extended testing to new groups.
Eye care professionals that have coronavirus symptoms and cannot work from home are also now eligible to apply for a test. Learn more.
There are now three drive-through test sites in Northern Ireland for essential or key workers. Learn more.
All community optometrists in Scotland are category 2 key workers and all other practice staff are category 3 key workers. If you are a key worker and self-isolating because you or a member of your household has Covid-19 symptoms, you can now arrange a test. Learn more about self-referral.
Health and social care workers with symptoms of Covid-19 are now eligible for testing. Learn more.
4. NHS updates - England and Scotland
On Thursday NHSE-I set out the second phase of the NHS response to Covid-19. The letter focuses on hospital and GP care, but starts to make early and cautious progress towards restarting some hospital elective procedures. Read the letter or read a summary by the BBC.
The letter also refers to concerns about people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds "being disproportionately affected by Covid-19" and confirms Public Health England will investigate this in more detail. In the meantime, NHSE-I note that "on a precautionary basis" it recommends "employers should risk-assess staff at potentially greater risk and make appropriate arrangements accordingly".The Nuffield Trust has also written a short piece on interpreting current Covid-19 data and its impacts on BAME people. Read more.
Public Health England published a new guide this week to help people deliver domiciliary care safely. The guide includes more detail on the use of PPE. Read more.
The Scottish Government today published PCA(0)2020(7), which includes details on
- Revised Health Protection Scotland guidance and Personal Protective Equipment requirements
- Emergency Eyecare Treatment Centres
- Emergency dispensing: general rules and issuing/claiming of optical vouchers
- Submission of eOphthalmic claims via eOphthalmic system
- Conditions for continued eligibility to receive financial support from the Scottish Government, and
- Miscellaneous other updates - including indemnity cover, medical examination reports for renewal of bus or lorry driver licences, minor aliment service extension and more.
5. Covid-19 official advice and guidance - quick access
We have created a pdf which you can use to keep up to date with official government, public health and healthcare Covid-19 guidance.
6. Training and education update
ABDO and the GOC have worked together to make temporary amendments to student supervision during Covid-19. Learn more.
In response to Covid-19, the College of Optometrists is reviewing the scheme of registration and has shared its initial plans with the GOC. The College has also explained to final year undergraduate students that the delay in existing students completing their training and challenges with supervision during the pandemic is likely to result in their start date being delayed. Read more.