Dear Prime Minister,
I am writing in support of the letter sent to you by Councillor Stephen Brady, Leader of Hull City Council and to express my grave concerns about the consequences of the current COVID-19 health emergency in the East Riding and Hull and the further support we urgently require to assist us to bring down infection rates and ultimately combat the virus over the coming months.
East Riding of Yorkshire Council and Hull City Council have worked together with LRF partners to try to reduce infection rates and provide support to our residents, businesses and schools. In particular our small Public Health teams have worked together tirelessly to provide advice, guidance and support and deal with infection outbreaks throughout the pandemic.
As I am sure you are aware, Hull City Council’s infection rate is now one ofthe highest in the country and East Riding’s continues to increase and unfortunately we are now in the top 20 areas in the country. Given our geography and travel to work patterns it is vital that the East Riding and Hull continue to work together to drive down infection rates.
Our Public Health teams have done a brilliant job but they are small in comparison with other areas. East Riding has one of the smallest public health budgets in the country at £32.88 per head of population in comparison with the England average of £57.82. Whilst we have coped well so far if we are to make the best use of the new lateral flow tests and plan effectively as an area for mass vaccination as well as dealing with the current infection rates we urgently need some additional support.
Our key asks are:
Additional support from Public Health England and the Joint Biosecurity Centre tosupport our local Directors of Public Health leading the pandemic analysis and response – our local teams have been working round the clock andcontinuously for over 300 days and this is just not sustainable.
We urgently need additional support with logistics and technical advice for the proposed wider Lateral Flow Tests and mass vaccination roll out to support our local public health and health teams. We do not have enough ‘feet on the ground’ to manage this all at once and we need much more support.
It is essential that we start having discussions with Government now about where East Riding and Hull will be after the national lockdown ends on 2 December. With our infection rates continuing to increase our businesses and residents must know what the situation will be as lockdown ends and to understand what the implications will be for the Christmas and New Year holidays. Whilst the support provided by Government to businesses is welcome, if East Riding and Hull are facing an extended period in lockdown, we would welcome a conversation as to what further support may be available particular to our hospitality sector which relies on the Christmas period to make it through to the spring and summer months.
The pressure facing our hospitals is critical, and these serve both the East Riding and Hull and, for some services, North and North East Lincolnshire. Three out of the four authorities are in the top twenty areas suffering the highest levels of infection rates. Additional resources and support are required if our hospitals are not to be overrun, already operations are being cancelled and waiting times which are already the highest in the country will increase further.
We can see a light at the end of the tunnel with the welcome news of the vaccine but currently need the urgent further support detailed above. We would welcome an urgent discussion about how you can assist us to make this happen.
Councillor Richard Burton
Leader of East Riding of Yorkshire Council