Black Country and West Birmingham STP is a collaboration of 18 organisations across primary care, community services, social care, mental health, and acute and specialised services.
It serves a population of around 1.4 million people across the Black Country and the west of Birmingham.
What was the aim/problem?
Given the emerging evidence of COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people, the STP sought to take urgent action to protect BAME members of staff within its workforce.
What was the solution?
A programme was quickly established to risk-assess all STP staff and workplaces/work environments, and subsequently to take reasonable steps to reduce risks to staff.
The acute trust, public health experts and Wolverhampton Council developed risk assessment tools accessible to every organisation, including those without access to occupational health (OH) services.
Each risk assessment was holistic, tailored to each individual, and considered their mental health and wellbeing. Specific risk factors were considered such as age, ethnicity, pregnancy and gender.
Upon completion of the assessments, three categories of risk were applied – red, amber or green, representing high, medium or low risk. This provided employers with a clear understanding of the grade of risk within their workforce.
What were the results?
Staff were allocated to one of the red/amber/green categories depending on their risk level. All were reassured throughout, and offered clear guidance as to how their working situation would progress:
- Red: staff were made eligible to work from home where appropriate; if home/remote working were not possible, staff would be redeployed to areas of minimal risk.
- Amber: where possible, staff were redeployed to areas of lower risk.
- Green: staff continued in their existing roles, with all necessary adjustments and safety precautions put in place to minimise risk where possible.
Regardless of the outcome of the RAG risk assessment above, all staff found to be extremely vulnerable (shielding), and/or those who were more than 28 weeks pregnant, were made eligible for home/remote working.
What were the learning points?
- Joint working has enabled a range of professionals to come together to make available a tool that is suitable for use in a range of health and social care settings, a true multi agency approach.
- Many practices had already pro-actively assessed their staff. These risk assessment tools have been used to review those arrangements, helping practices to determine what further practical measures may be necessary to mitigate the risks to their staff and service delivery models.
- Practices discussing outcomes with their primary care networks allowed them to share results with their workforces, so as to better tackle challenges which have been identified – such as shortfalls in particular staff groups.
- Assessment findings will inform the Restoration and Recovery Planning for Primary Care spanning all clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in the Black Country and West Birmingham. This approach allows challenges to be recognised both at practice and strategic levels.
- Clinical chairs and local medical committees are keen to remain involved in this work to ensure general practice remains sustainable over the coming months.
Want to know more?
Please contact: Dr Salma Reehana, CCG Clinical Chair, Wolverhampton CCG, S.Reehana@nhs.net