Monday, January 25, 2021

NHS Covid briefing to Highland Councillors can now go into the Public Domain says Tom Heggie at NWSCC meeting tonight - and here it is as Oor Tom rapidly put it out there to interested parties

At the online  meeting of NWSCC this evening Cllr Tom Heggie indicated that previously he had been instructed that Covid briefing e-mails for Councillors should not enter the public domain but that had now changed. And here are the details of the latest briefing - apologies about the bit of white background on a bit of text below, trying to get that sorted:

Key stakeholders update 20 January 2021

COVID cases

The number of new cases is gradually reducing. Yesterday we had 21 new cases, following a period of 80-100 cases a day. The infection rate is 128/100,000 across the NHS Highland area: 78/100,000 in Argyll and Bute and 147/100,000 in North Highland.

We have a total of 26 inpatient cases in Raigmore and one in Lorn and the Isles. With seven COVID patients in ITU, we have had to flex our usual ITU capacity of seven beds to 12, to include five non-COVID ITU patients.


To date we have carried out over 21,000 first dose vaccinations. All care home residents across NHS Highland and Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership have been offered a first, with the exception of homes currently experiencing an outbreak.

We aim to meet or exceed Scottish Government targets for vaccination, though these plans are subject to change based on Scottish Government guidance and are dependent on having enough supply of vaccine.  

We have a number of temporary residents in our area, for example second home owners. These people should identify themselves to the local practice as a temporary resident and ask to be vaccinated when the vaccine is available to people of their age/group.

We have asked practices to follow Scottish Government guidance, which is to vaccinate temporary residents aged over 80 as if they were residents.

Across the NHS Highland area we have over 100 vaccination centres, principally GP surgeries. For staff based in the South and Mid area we have opened a mass vaccination centre at the Centre for Health Science, and patient-facing staff are now able to book appointments. In the North and West and Argyll and Bute, the more dispersed population means that is it more efficient for us to offer clinics vaccinating all staff at various locations close to their work. This may mean that some staff in a lower priority group in one area are vaccinated a few days before higher priority colleagues in another area, however, we aim to have all patient-facing staff vaccinated in the next two weeks. 

Priority group

When the first dose will be completed

Total population across the NHS Highland area (to nearest 500)

All those 80 years of age and over

5 February


All those 75-80 years of age



All those 70-75 years of age



Extremely clinically vulnerable individuals



All those 65-70 years of age



All individuals aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions and unpaid carers



All those 60-65 years of age



All those 55-60 years of age



All those 50-55 years of age



We will ensure that everyone has their second dose within 12 weeks of their first appointment.

New face mask guidance

With COVID more prevalent here than previously, and the new more transmissible variant present, we have updated our guidance on face coverings and masks. The Infection Control Improvement Group and PPE Group advise that staff, patients and visitors in all hospital and care settings should now use Fluid Resistant Surgical Masks (FRSM) instead of face coverings. This will be safer for the vulnerable people in our case than face coverings, some of which may be less effective. FRSMs will be provided.
All staff/patients/visitors should put on a FRSM rather than a face covering upon entering the care facility.
All patient-facing staff/healthcare workers working within the clinical areas must wear a FRSM for all patient care and when it is not possible to maintain physical distance.
All non-clinical/patient-facing staff must wear a FRSM when it is not possible to physically distance from colleagues within offices, moving between departments and other settings.
All staff working in specific non-clinical shared office spaces should also ensure they use of FRSM or if this is not possible ensure they wear face coverings of at least three layers, when it is not possible to physically distance from one another.
All patients must be provided with and encouraged to wear a FRSM when it is not possible to physically distance from other patients or HCW. If a patient is exempt or can't wear a mask, this will be documented clearly.


Eight proactive, positive pieces of media coverage have been published supporting the key messages of the vaccination programme, and work is ongoing to increase this. On social media, a series of eight posts have had an average reach of 15,575 and engagement of 3,217.