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Sefton Health Chief’s concern about possible rise in COVID cases when Government ends free LFD testing in April

Photo of Home Testing Kit components
Home Testing Kit components

With the number of COVID cases in the UK once again on the rise, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, Cllr Ian Moncur, has expressed concern that the Government is ending free LFD COVID testing from Friday 1st April,

Protect

Cllr Moncur said: “From Friday 1st April rapid LFD tests that people can use to make sure they are not carrying the coronavirus without showing symptoms, will no longer be available free for most people.

“Using regular LFD tests has let us know when we have the COVID virus without feeling unwell or showing the symptoms, and as a result we have been able to protect others and not pass it on unwittingly.

“I am worried that with COVID case numbers and hospitalisations in the UK already rising, people will not be able to afford to start paying pay for tests when they face huge rising prices in the shops and at petrol stations, an eye-watering leap in the cost of domestic fuel, increased train fares and, from next month the Government’s National Insurance hike.

“This could lead to a rise in infection levels across Sefton’s communities and increased pressure on our medical services again.”

Support

Currently, people in Sefton can collect free, rapid LFD test kits from the Borough’s COVID 19 Test Centres at Bootle Town Hall, Bootle Strand Shopping Centre and Southport Splash World rapid test centres. People who want support with testing can also get their test, and advice, at one of the Centres.

However, with the Government ending funding for local testing from the start of April, these test centres will close.

Cllr Moncur also says he is worried that the charges for tests, which could be as much as £6 each, will mean households on the lowest incomes, already making difficult decisions about whether to eat or heat their homes, will have to make a further choice on whether they can afford a COVID test before visiting someone who is potentially vulnerable.

Vulnerable

He said: “Once again, despite the Government’s talk about levelling up, those least able to pay are being put at the most risk with a greater chance they might unknowingly passing on COVID to those vulnerable relatives, friends and colleagues.

“We will continue to give out the free test packs at our Test Centres while stocks last until Thursday 31st March when we have to close them.”

Sefton Council is continuing to advise that people remain cautious and considerate to others, continuing to wear face coverings in busy indoor areas and on public transport and maintaining social distancing where necessary.

For the rest of March, people who do have coronavirus symptoms of a new continuous cough, a fever or a loss of smell or taste, can still get a PCR test at one of Sefton’s four local walk-through test centres. These are located at Bootle Town Hall, Crosby Library Car Park, Haigh Road, Netherton Activity Centre and Southport Town Hall and are open every day from 8am to 6pm. They will also close after Friday 1st April.

Drive-through Mobile Testing Units will also be visiting Litherland Sports Park, Maghull Town Hall and Southport, Esplanade Park and Ride through March. A link to the schedule can be found at www.sefton.gov.uk/testing-in-sefton

People can book a PCR test by visiting www.nhs.uk/coronavirus  or calling 119.

Mobile COVID testing Units in Sefton during February 2022.

Throughout March, drive-through Mobile Testing Units will be available across the Borough.

These sites are for people with symptoms – a new persistent cough, a high temperature or a loss of sense of taste or smell – and can be booked by calling 119 or visiting www.nhs.uk/coronavirus.
Planned dates and sites may be subject to change if testing is required in other locations:

Dates and locations for March 2022

  • Tuesday 1 Litherland Sports Park
  • Wednesday 2 Litherland Sports Park
  • Thursday 3 Maghull Town Hall
  • Friday 4 Maghull Town Hall
  • Saturday 5 NO MOBILE TESTING
  • Sunday 6 NO MOBILE TESTING
  • Monday 7 Southport, Esplanade Park and Ride
  • Tuesday 8 Southport, Esplanade Park and Ride
  • Wednesday 9 NO MOBILE TESTING
  • Thursday 10 Maghull Town Hall
  • Friday 11 Maghull Town Hall
  • Saturday 12 Southport, Esplanade Park and Ride
  • Sunday 13 Southport, Esplanade Park and Ride
  • Monday 14 Litherland Sports Park
  • Tuesday 15 Litherland Sports Park
  • Wednesday 16 Litherland Sports Park
  • Thursday 17 NO MOBILE TESTING
  • Friday 18 Maghull Town Hall
  • Saturday 19 NO MOBILE TESTING
  • Sunday 20 Southport, Esplanade Park and Ride
  • Monday 21 Southport, Esplanade Park and Ride
  • Tuesday 22 NO MOBILE TESTING
  • Wednesday 23 NO MOBILE TESTING
  • Thursday 24 Maghull Town Hall
  • Friday 25 Maghull Town Hall
  • Saturday 26 Southport, Esplanade Park and Ride
  • Sunday 27 Southport, Esplanade Park and Ride
  • Monday 28 Litherland Sports Park
  • Tuesday 29 Litherland Sports Park
  • Wednesday 30 NO MOBILE TESTING
  • Thursday 31 Maghull Town Hall

Mobile Units are open from 10am to 3pm.

Walk-through test centres

In addition, four local walk-through test centres are open , providing easy access to COVID-19 tests for people who do not have access to a car and for those who have symptoms and should not travel by public transport.

The four local test centres are located at:

  • Bootle Town Hall, L20 7AA
  • Crosby Library Car Park, Haigh Road, L22 OLQ
  • Netherton Activity Centre, Glovers Lane, L30 3TL
  • Southport Town Hall, PR8 1DA

They are open from 8am to 6pm every day,

Those with symptoms wanting tests, need to book ahead of going to either the walk-through or drive-through sites. It’s quick and easy to book by calling 119 or going online at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus.

Find out more about COVID in Sefton, including testing and vaccinations.

Last chance to get COVID vaccinations at Bootle Cricket Club, on Monday 28th February

There’s still chance to get vaccinated at the temporary pop-up clinic which has returned to Firwood Bootle Cricket Club.

Success

Following the success of pop-up clinics over the festive period and on Monday 21 February, the site is also reopening on Monday 28 February from 10am to 4pm.

South Sefton residents aged 18 or over can simply turn up to the clinic at the club on Wadham Road, Bootle, during opening hours to get their first, second or booster jab, with no appointment needed.

Not too late

Dr Pete Chamberlain, local GP and chair at NHS South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “NHS teams in Sefton continue to work hard to make sure everyone can access their COVID-19 vaccine, whether it is their first, second, or booster dose.

“This pop-up site will make it easier than ever for people to come along and get vaccinated.

“It’s not too late to get your first jab, while second jabs and booster doses greatly reduce the risk of serious illness from COVID-19, so please come along if you are eligible.”

Not fully vaccinated

Margaret Jones, Sefton Council’s director of public health said recently: “We are not fully vaccinated unless we have had two jabs and a booster, even if we have recently had COVID-19.

“Vaccination doesn’t mean we can’t catch the virus or be re-infected but if we do, we have stronger immunity and will be far less likely to be seriously ill.”

Plan ahead

Residents are being advised to plan ahead for their journey to the vaccination site, as parking is limited at the cricket club and is restricted on nearby roads.

To find more local vaccination sites in Sefton, visit the NHS South Sefton CCG website: www.southseftonccg.nhs.uk/get-informed/latest-news/walk-in-or-book-a-covid-19-vaccine

To find out more about the COVID-19 booster vaccine, who is eligible, and to book an appointment online through the national booking system, visit the NHS website: www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/coronavirus-booster-vaccine.

Sefton Council Leader’s concerns at scrapping of COVID-19 restrictions

Cllr Ian Maher
Council Leader Cllr Ian Maher

Sefton Council leader, Cllr Ian Maher has welcomed ongoing signs that the country is beginning to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic but has urged caution after the Government announced this week it is ending most of the current precautions.

Grip

Cllr Maher said: “Of course, it is good news that the country is continuing to emerge from the grip of COVID but just last week the Office for National Statistics reported that as many as one in 20 people in England are infected with coronavirus.

“Therefore, like many people across the country, I am concerned that Boris Johnson is scrapping some of the measures in place to keep us all safe, too soon.

“The Prime Minister’s decision to remove the legal requirement for people who test positive to self-isolate at home from Thursday this week but still recommend they still do so until 1st April is likely to cause confusion.

Pressure

“This contradictory advice combined with Mr Johnson’s announcement he is scrapping the £500 Test and Trace Support Payment scheme and the payment of Statutory Sick Pay from day one of being infected with coronavirus, is likely to pressure people into going out to work when they are unwell and infectious to others.

“This could result in people who are most at risk and immune-compromised feeling pressured to go out, possibly out of economic need, despite them being highly vulnerable to the still-serious effects of COVID-19.”

A YouGov survey carried out earlier this month showed that 75% of the 4451 British adults surveyed thought that people testing positive for COVID-19 should be required legally to self-isolate at least for the next few months. Almost 50% thought this should be the case permanently.

Cautious and considerate

After previous Government relaxations of measures to help keep people safe, Sefton Council has advised people to remain cautious and considerate to others. Advice includes continuing to wear face coverings in busy indoor areas and on public transport and maintaining distancing where necessary.

Cllr Maher added:
“I have said how grateful I am for all the sacrifices our Borough’s residents and businesses have made throughout the pandemic to look after each other and the most vulnerable. I remain confident that despite the Government now pulling the plug on much of the remaining support that is still needed, this caring approach will continue in Sefton.”

‘Menopause and the workplace’ programme praised by University of Liverpool staff

Sefton Council has been leading the way in raising awareness on the menopause and its effects on the workplace.

The Local Authority’s dedicated, Active Workforce team works with local organisations across Sefton to improve the health and wellbeing of their employees.

Following the launch of Sefton’s new Menopause policy in 2020, Active Workforce set to help foster a more open and positive approach to the condition within workplaces across the Liverpool City Region.

Active Workforce have received praise from the University of Liverpool following the delivery of interactive and informative workshops around the menopause and its symptoms.

Joy Vogt, Executive Officer at University of Liverpool said, “I lead the University’s Menopause Support Network but believe it’s important that colleagues and managers from across the organisation are educated on this subject. The sessions delivered by Active Workforce have been informative and well received by all attendees.

“The sessions explain what menopause is, its symptoms, how it affects women and those around them, and importantly how to support colleagues in the workplace.

“There was a fantastic case study shared that really helped provide context and bring the information we’d learnt into reality. I was quite well informed about menopause due to my role in the support network, however this case study surprised me, and it was interesting to see how other colleagues responded.

“I feel the training has helped raise awareness of this topic within the organisation and I would love to see more sessions run over the course of the year, allowing more people to have the opportunity to attend. The sessions have given those who attended the tools and confidence to have conversations with colleagues, friends and relatives, which is a fantastic step forward.”

Active Workforce is Sefton Council’s award-winning health and wellbeing programme for businesses to help their staff to be active and healthy during working hours and reduce their absence through sickness and poor health.

The menopause workshops are delivered online and are available to employees of all organisations across Merseyside. The half-hour sessions focus on educating men, supporting managers, and preparing younger employees to recognise the symptoms. In addition, there is a monthly, hour-long menopause group, offering employees the chance to discuss their experiences with others in the same situation, and listen to topical speakers from the local area.

Orgainisations can find out more about the seminars and how Active Workforce can help them by contacting the Active Workforce team at active.workforce@sefton.gov.uk

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