Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Drive-through NHS Covid-19 Test Centre opens at Wembley IKEA



An Ikea spokesman said:
Today, a drive-through NHS Covid-19 test centre has opened in the car park of our Wembley store.

We are incredibly proud that we are able to support the Government and the NHS in this small way, and are working with them to identify any additional sites that could also support the national effort.
I understand from other press sources that initially the centre will be for NHS staff by invitation only.

'Military Style' operation brings Personal Protection Equipment to Brent carers



From Brent Council

Brent Council’s critical carers will be hitting the front-line fully protected with personal protection equipment (PPE) to help stop the spread of Covid-19.

Around 1.6 million gloves and aprons were dropped off at the Council’s headquarters in what was a military-style operation over the weekend. A further two hundred and eighty thousand masks will be delivered this week.

This will help shield approximately 2,250 vulnerable over-70s across 180 nursing and residential homes, and those who receive care at home in Brent.

This critical supply will help ‘shield’ vulnerable residents for the next 3 to 6 months.

It will also protect around 23,000 care staff across the London Borough of Brent.
Note: I have asked Brent Press Office if this is also going to be distributed to agency carers and staff looking after the children of keyworkers (including NHS staff) and vulnerable children in schools and nurseries.

I have not had a response yet but Brent Council tweeted this last night:



Meanwhile the Council has posted this video from Brent's Director of Children's Services:

Monday, 30 March 2020

Dedicated borough-based Covid-19 clinics to be established by NW London CCGs

Responding to Saturday's tweet (above) by Cllr Ketan Sheth (Chair of Brent Council's Commnity and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee) a spokesperson for the MedianWL North West London Collaboration of Clinical Commissioning Groups, said:
The eight CCGs in North West London are establishing a joint primary care response to COVID-19. This will include patients being managed both remotely and face to face by GPs. Face to face management will require dedicated clinics and we are establishing these in each borough. Patients will access the clinic through referral by the NHS 111 service or their practice.’

Saturday, 28 March 2020

The Fryent Country Park Story – Part 1

The first of a series of guest posts by Wembley History Society member, Philip Grant.

Some of you may be thinking of our beautiful local country park as a peaceful place, where you can go for fresh air and exercise while still “social distancing”. Others are looking forward to spending some time there, once we are no longer asked to ‘stay at home’. But have you ever wondered how we came to have this special open space, or what it was like here 100 or 1,000 years ago? Over the next few weekends I hope to share its story with you.

1. Looking north across Little Hillcroft Field, towards Kingsbury.

When were people first living on what is now the country park? There is evidence that there was a farm in Roman times near Blackbird Hill. An ancient trackway, that crossed the River Brent (a Celtic name) by a ford at the bottom of the hill, continued northwards, just to the west of the modern Fryent Way. You can follow it as a footpath, branching off on the left about 100 metres north of the Salmon Street roundabout. The Saxons called this route “Eldestrete” (the old road), and in the 10th century they used it to mark the boundary between Harrow parish (where the land was owned by the Archbishops of Canterbury) and “Kynggesbrig”, now Kingsbury (a place belonging to the King).

2. Harvesting in the 11th century. (From a manuscript, probably in the British Library)
There was already some farming here by AD1085, when King William I’s Domesday Book survey was conducted, but much of the land was still woodland. This was enough to feed 1,000 pigs in the larger Tunworth manor, given by the Conquerer to one of his knights, Ernulf de Hesdin, with enough woodland for 200 pigs (‘silva.cc.porc.’) in Chalkhill manor, owned by Westminster Abbey (‘abbé S.PETRI’) after a gift by King Edward the Confessor.

3. An extract from the Domesday Book, including the Westminster Abbey land in "Chingesberie".

On the Harrow side of Eldestrete, there were some common fields by this time. Here crops were grown on ploughed strips of land, each a furrow long (hence the old distance of a furlong, or 220 yards). Some freemen rented fields, where they could graze sheep or cattle. Hilly ground such as Barn Hill was still wooded, and villagers who kept pigs could pay “pannage” (one penny per pig) to the lord of the manor, to let them feed there.

4. Ploughing in the 11th century.  (From a manuscript, probably in the British Library)

Around 1244, about 300 acres of Chalkhill manor were gifted to a religious order, the Knights of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem. To help provide food for their priory in Clerkenwell, they established a farm on Church Lane (where the Co-op now stands) which became known as Freren Farm, after the Norman French word for “the brothers” (monks and lay brothers) who farmed it. The modern name, Fryent, comes from that farm.

By 1300, parcels of land in Tunworth manor, had been let out to tenants who cleared small fields out of the woodland, a process known as “assarting”. Three of these landholdings to the west side of Salmon Street became farms that lasted until the mid-twentieth century; Hill Farm (at the top of the rise near the junction with Mallard Way) and two named after the original farmers, Edwin’s (later Little Bush Farm) and Richard’s (which became Bush Farm, opposite the junction with Slough Lane). There were thick hedgerows between the fields and some woodland remained.

This increase in farming activity suffered a set-back in the mid-14th century, when a great plague, carried by rats and called the “Black Death”, spread across Britain killing over one million people, around 40% of the total population. The records of Kingsbury’s manor court for 1350 alone show 13 deaths ‘at the time of the pestilence’.

The country got through that pandemic, just as we will the present one, and the farming community on what is now our country park recovered. In 1439 much of Tunworth manor (together with land in Edgware and Willesden) was bought by Archbishop Chichele of Canterbury. He donated it to a new theological college he set up in 1442, All Souls in Oxford, which collected rents from the tenant farmers for the next five hundred years. The Archbishop also had an oak wood in Harrow cut down, to supply timber for the college roof, which meant some of his tenants lost their supply of firewood, and acorns for their pigs!

5. The brass memorial to John Shepard and his wives in Old St Andrew’s Church, Kingsbury.

For more than 100 years, the tenants at Hill Farm were members of the Shepard family. We know that they became quite wealthy, from the earliest surviving memorial in Old Saint Andrew’s Church. This is to John Shepard, who died in 1520, and shows him flanked by his two wives, Anne and Maude, with the eighteen children he had by them, all depicted wearing fashionable clothes. 

When All Souls College had a map of its lands in Kingsbury drawn in 1597, it showed Thomas Shepard as the tenant of Hill Farm and many of the nearby fields. Edmund, John, Richard and William Shepard were among other tenants in Kingsbury. The Hovenden Map, named after the Warden of the College, is a remarkable record of the area, giving the names and sizes of the fields, and who was the tenant of each. 

The map extract below shows the farm and the Hillcroft fields, and you can walk across this part of Fryent Country Park along a footpath. Treat the short section of Eldestrete, in the top left corner of the map, as if it were Fryent Way. At the brow of the hill you will find the footpath, which takes you along the ridge, with lovely views over the fields, to Salmon Street, near its junction with Mallard Way.



6. The Hillcroft fields on the Hovenden Map of 1597. (© The Warden and Fellows of All Souls College, Oxford)

Enjoy the walk, or at least looking forward to it, and I will take up the story again next week. If you want to ask any questions, or add some information, please leave a comment below.
Philip Grant



Residents identified by NHS as 'highest risk' should expect a call from Brent Council

From Brent Council website today

We are currently making calls to residents who the NHS have identified as being at highest risk from coronavirus (COVID-19).

These individuals will have received a letter from the NHS instructing them to self-isolate for a period of 12 weeks, so we will be contacting them as we receive their details to ensure that they are aware of how to access support if they need it.

We want to make sure that we put necessary support in place as fast as possible, so we will be making these calls as we receive new data from the NHS.

Staying safe

This might mean you receive a call from us outside of normal office hours. It's important to stay safe at this challenging time. You can be reassured that calls are genuine as long as they begin with the 0208 937 prefix. We will never ask for your bank details and you should never share your PIN with anyone, or invite someone you don't know into your home.

If you are unsure, you can  call back on our helping on 0208 937 1234 from Monday-Friday 9am-5pm.

Friday, 27 March 2020

London CIV launches LCIV Sustainable Equity Exclusion Fund that 'faciltates disinvestment and addresses climate change'

When times return to normal something for Brent and other London councils to consider seriously:

The London Collective Investment Vehicle (London CIV) is pleased to announce the launch of the LCIV Sustainable Equity Exclusion Fund.

The Fund is being seeded with £200m from the London Borough of Lambeth Pension Fund; the initial investment in the Fund is to be managed by RBC Global Asset Management (UK) Limited.

Kevin Corrigan, Interim CIO at LCIV said:
We are delighted to launch the LCIV Sustainable Equity Exclusion Fund. Being responsible investors is an imperative for the London CIV and our pool members. This Fund demonstrates our commitment to finding the right solutions for our investors in this important area. 
Cllr Iain Simpson, Pension Chair of the London Borough of Lambeth, said:
We are delighted that London CIV has launched the LCIV Sustainable Equity Exclusion Fund. It shows that local government pension funds can change the investment landscape by creating the demand for innovative products that facilitate disinvestment and address climate change. While Lambeth is the first borough to invest with this fund, we hope that many more will follow.
Habib Subjally, Senior Portfolio Manager and Head of Global Equities at RBC Global Asset Management (UK) Limited.
RBC Global Asset Management is proud to continue providing portfolio management solutions to a trusted institution such as the London CIV. The launch of the Sustainable Equity Exclusion Fund was driven by strong client demand for responsible investment solutions, and we are pleased the London CIV has entrusted us to help them demonstrate their commitment to being responsible investors.
The new fund sits alongside the existing LCIV Sustainable Equity Fund and offers pool members the opportunity to exclude investments in sectors such as fossil fuels, tobacco and weapons. The launch brings assets managed in LCIV Sustainable Equity strategies to over £580m.

Harlesden Foodbank pulls out the stops for limited opening this morning



Congratulations and thanks to all the volunteers involved

Statement from from Fresh Horizons Harlesden Foodbank

We will be running a limited foodbank this morning. Please be aware that we will only have a maximum of six volunteers working so please be patient as service will be slower than normal.

Again there will be several changes to the way we work to protect both ourselves and our clients.
The Café remains closed until further notice. 

Visitors to the Foodbank will not be allowed to enter the building. Clients must queue a minimum of 3m apart. Because of social distancing there will be no registration clients should come to the High Street entrance of Tavistock Hall at 11am where they will be given pre-prepared bags. 

All food will be distributed via the High Street entrance. Clients will receive one or two bags of pre-packed food including, if available and while stocks last dairy, chicken, beef, fish or pork. We will offer a vegetarian option if there is one available.

Please be patient with our volunteers they are giving freely of their time to help you. Please remember this is a difficult time for everyone. 

Any donations of food, sanitary, household or toiletry products may be brought to the Foodbank Friday morning from 9.30am and given to Miranda. Please help us to help the most vulnerable and needy in our neighbourhood.

All decisions about the foodbank have been made jointly by Rose McGowan and Michael Goss of Fresh Horizons along with Rev Mike Long of Harlesden Methodist Church.

Our thanks and appreciation.

Thank you to our partners The Felix Project City Harvest London FareShare who continue to provide us with food

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Brent keeps allotments open for fresh air and exercise

Brent Council is keeping its allotments open for plot-holders' fresh air and exercise and has posted notices closely following the advice drawn up by the National Allotment Society. LINK

I applaud the Council's sensible decision.

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

London Borough of Culture on hold

From the GLA

The Deputy Mayor for Culture and Creative Industries, Justine Simons, has today announced changes to the London Borough of Culture programme in response to the impact of coronavirus.  

Brent 2020 is rescheduling its programme until later in 2020, with the Kilburn High Street Party and Liberty Festival, the Mayor of London’s free festival celebrating of the work of Deaf and disabled artists, happening in the summer of 2021. Lewisham’s year as London Borough of Culture will move to 2022. Croydon will remain London Borough of Culture for 2023.

Justine Simons said
It’s important that we all follow the Government’s instructions to stay at home unless it is essential to leave. But we do not want Londoners to miss out on the amazing creative programmes that Brent, Lewisham and Croydon have planned, so that is why we have re-scheduled our plans. We will work closely with artists, the boroughs and all those involved to ensure they are supported during these challenging times.

Advice on allotment gardening during Covid-19 restrictions

From the National Allotment Society

Following the instructions around movement and gatherings from the Prime Minister on 23 March 2020, we are consulting with central government but as we understand the situation at the moment it is still permitted to visit your plot, ideally on your own to take daily exercise. It is vitally important that you follow all the advice about social distancing and hygiene in the points below and not gather together on site.

Any plot-holder who is self isolating because a household member is ill with corona-virus should not be visiting the site.

Associations should display an advice notice on their boards. It is important that anyone attending the allotment takes care to stay the appropriate distance from others, avoid body contact and wash hands at taps, do not wash hands or use detergents in the water tanks and please pay attention to notice boards.

It is essential that no un-authorised people are allowed onto the plots for the duration of this emergency, if you do wish to bring someone to assist with work on the plot, please ensure that that this is notified either to Secretary or Site Manager.  Careful consideration should be given to introducing anyone over 70, those with underlying illness or pregnant women.

We are living through a crisis, the likes of which none of us has experienced before, not since war time has the community spirit that exists on allotment sites been more important.  Please remember to look out for one another during these very difficult times.

Members should take the following precautionary measures :
  • Keep hand sanitiser in your shed and wash your hands regularly
  • Use hand sanitiser before opening and closing any gate locks
  • Observe “Social Distancing” with each other 2-3 metres
  • Do not share tools
  • Minimise the contact with each other for example no handshakes
  • Do not wash your hands in water troughs
  • We recommend that all communal facilities are closed
  • Click here for guidance if you do need to clean an area that has been visited by an infected person.
  • Plan ahead to ensure that you have food and medication delivered to you during this time
  • Stay away from vulnerable individuals such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions as much as possible
  • If you display any symptoms of coronavirus stay at home and self-isolate for at least 14 days or until symptoms have passed.

Covid-19: Brent Council sets up Wellbeing Helpline for the vulnerable who have no other support 020 8937 6589



From Brent Council

Helping the most vulnerable

For the most vulnerable, the most isolated and the most at risk of being taken advantage of, the council is working closely with our voluntary and community sector and wider health partners to arrange a more co-ordinated response.

If you or someone you know does not have the support of family, friends or the wider community, then Brent Council has set up a Wellbeing Duty phone line to make sure the most vulnerable people get the support they need.

Wellbeing Duty phone line

If you are worried about a vulnerable person and don’t think they have existing support, you can call the helpline on 020 8937 6589 between 8am and 8pm, seven days a week.
Services we can offer include:
  • Shopping/meal delivery/access to food
  • Help with collection/arranging medication
  • Outreach and peer support for the socially isolated
Trained social care professionals are answering the new helpline number. They will ask a series of questions to establish what support the individual needs and then put in place what is required if there is no other way that someone can be supported.

We will also ensure that where people need more formal, social care support we will put this in place for them if required and as we normally would.

EDITOR'S NOTE Brent Council stress that the helpline is only for those who have NO other support and ask that it be used wisely.


Monday, 23 March 2020

Covid-19: Brent's parks stay open but children's playgrounds, MUGAs, tennis courts and outdoor gyms to close



 Kelly Eaton, Brent Parks, Policy and Projects Manager has written to Brent Parks Forum to update them on partial closures in the borough's parks.
I just wanted to update you in this time of uncertainty with the current Covid-19 situation.

You may have seen in the news this weekend, reports of large numbers of visitors to Parks and Open Spaces.  We all know how important parks are for physical and mental wellbeing, however in the current climate we are concerned that people are not heeding social distancing advice and are crowding together in playgrounds, Multi Use Games Areas and gyms.

I am therefore writing to you as ‘Friends of ‘ groups in our parks to advise that as of today (Monday), we are closing children’s playgrounds, Multi Use Games Areas (MUGAs) , tennis courts and, where possible, outdoor gyms.  Signs will be placed on gates to each facility advising that it is closed until further notice. Any toilet facilities will also be closed and we are currently in liaison with the two café’s in Roundwood and Gladstone Park as to their operating status.

We do not take this decision lightly, but it has been made in the interests of public health.

I hope that you understand our decision and please contact me if you have any further questions about this approach.

We’re glad that people are still using our parks for a breath of fresh air, but we are asking park users respect public health advice to:

•           Stay two metres away from others
•           Not touch their face
•           Wash their hands thoroughly as soon as they get home

Saturday, 21 March 2020

Brent Council to ask software provider to improve public access to planning documents

Below is the outcome of my complaint to Brent Council referring to the difficulty of accessing planning documents for a major planning application in February. LINK I do not agree with the findings re availability of the reports but have decided not to take it further. In the present coronavirus crisis council officers have other urgent matters to deal with.

I do welcome the undertaking to ask for improvements  to the software for the  public access system tso as to allow users to copy and share links to specific documents. This is not just beneficial but, in terms of informing the public via this blog about major applications, of vital importance and clearly in the public interest.


Complaint about Performance Improvement
This letter is my decision on your complaint under our complaints procedure.

You have summarised your complaint as follows:
1. The unavailability of the Agenda for the February 18th Planning Committee on the Democracy section of the Council’s website on Monday February 17th 
2. The unavailability of the Deloitte Financial Viability Report (including the Strutt Parker marketing report) on the Brent Planning Portal on Monday February 17th. This referred to 18/4920 due to be discussed at the February 18th Planning Committee.
3. Inaccuracies in planning officers’ reports corrected by last minute Supplementary Reports to Planning Committee.  In this case specifically the corrected table for Major Adverse affect on Daylight for neighbouring properties, (Corrected from 5% to 23.3%)

In relation to point 2, you have said that have said that the Planning Committee chair incorrectly referred to “dead links” being used, and that you do not consider that this was the case.  In relation to all points, you have also asked for a review of staffing levels and proposals to make the website and portal more efficient.

I have evaluated the matters that you have raised.

Availability of Planning Committee agenda
The agenda for the 18 February Planning Committee meeting was published on 10 February.  We do not have a record of the web site being unavailable on the 17th and we checked the committee services pages when were made aware of the comment that it was unavailable and found that the agenda was available at that time.  I am not sure why you couldn’t access the agenda when you tried to access it on the 17th.

With regard to the Financial Viability report, we checked the planning application documents for that application on our web site and your link when you reported that the link that you had shared did not work.  We found that the web site was working and the document was accessible (i.e. it could be downloaded from our web site) but the link that you shared was not.  We tested the links that we had provided to the application, including the links within the consultation letter, site notice and the committee report.  These all worked.  The Chair was advised of this and he commented on this at the start of the committee meeting.

We have looked into this further following the receipt of your complaint.  We have found that all documents are accessible if one uses the link to the application record (i.e. the full record of the planning application).  However, we found that if one copies a link directly to a document (e.g. right clicking that document and selecting “copy link”) then this link will only work if the user is already on a web page within our planning public access system.  So, the links that we provide within consultation letters, reports, etc, do work.  However, if an individual copies and then shares the link to the specific document (as you did) then this doesn’t work.  We were not aware of this.  We tested this on other Council websites that use the same system (around 90 % of Planning Authorities in England use the same system) and found that the same issue was evident on their web site.  This is therefore an issue with the software.

The documents were available throughout this time using the links that we provided and were publicly available.  However, we understand that some users may want to save or share links to specific documents.  We have raised this with the external software provider and have asked them to resolve this issue within their system.  We will also place a message on our system notifying people that they should not share links to individual documents.

You have also raised concern regarding changes to the amendment to the daylight and sunlight figures that were updated in the Supplementary Report.  It was reported that the tables setting out the full (window-by-window) details in relation to daylight and sunlight impacts within the supporting reports were correct, but that a summary table included some incorrect information.  A revised copy of the summary table was included in the supplementary report which showed that the number of windows for which there would be a Major Adverse effect on sunlight was greater than was reported in the previous version of the table, and both the previous and the corrected results were shown.  You have commented that you consider that this would affect the public’s right to know information regarding the planning application and their ability to respond in time.

The information relating to sunlight received by each window within the supporting reports for the application was correct, and it was a part of the summary table that was incorrect.  Should a resident wish to see the level of impact on sunlight received by a window of their home, this information was correct.  When making a decision on the application, members were aware of the level of the impact on affected windows and made their decision on this basis.  While it would have been preferable for this to be highlighted earlier, it is considered that potentially affected surrounding residents were able to consider the impact of the proposal on their amenities and members properly considered the balance of impacts and benefits.

Having reviewed the concerns that you have raised, I consider that processes were correctly followed.  However, I do believe that improvements to the public access system to allow uses to copy and share links to specific documents would be beneficial and we have asked the software provider to resolve this.  With regard to your comment that a review of staffing is undertaken, we currently consider that while staff are typically busy, staff levels are adequate at present.  Nevertheless, we are continually reviewing and improving the way that we work to that staff can work effectively and efficiently.

I hope that my investigation and this letter have resolved your complaint. If you do have any remaining concerns please feel free to contact me to discuss them. If you remain dissatisfied you can ask for a final review of your complaint to be done on behalf of the Council’s Chief Executive. You will need to explain in detail why you consider that my response has not resolved your complaint. You should make your request for a review within 8 weeks of the date of this letter and address it to: 
The Complaints Service Team,
Brent Civic Centre
Engineers Way
Wembley 
HA9 0FJ

Brent Council sets up Covid-19 Steering Group and Emergency Fund


Using her powers Carolyn Downs, the CEO of Brent Council, in consultation with the lead member, has set up a steering group framework of voluntary and community organisations to shape Brent's response to the Covid 19 (Coronavirus) crisis. The response includes the setting up of an Emergency Fund.

As can be seen above the  lead organisations in two vital areas have yet to be decided.

The report states:


The intention of our proposals is that these groups would be able to seek support from the CVS and we will fund the CVS accordingly.

  1.  That the Chief Exec:
    • Approve the establishment of a Steering Group made up of lead voluntary sector providers overseeing implementation of the new approach.
    • Approve the setting up of thematic groups for the areas detailed in this report co-ordinated by the CVS.
    • Approve the administration of small grants of up to £500 and the mapping/monitoring of the thematic groups activity across the borough by CVS Brent.
    • Approve the adoption of a two-phased approach to this work.
    • Approve the establishment of emergency funds.
    • Agree that the council takes a more flexible approach to how it manages currently grant-funded projects.

On the Mutual Aid Groups that were set up a week ago and now serve most of the wards in Brent the report states:
Many residents have self-organised across the borough to create local groups to help support mutual aid for those communities that have been or are likely to become vulnerable. Whilst these are self-organised groups and the council would not expect to manage their activity the council has created the thematic lead to act as key conduits for sign posting, intelligence gathering and disseminating to support the activities of these self-organised groups.
John Healy of Brent Advicacy Concern commented:
Brent Council have identified 7 key groups and have already found leads for 4 of them. Unfortunately they cannot find anyone to take the lead for 'people with disabilities' or for 'older people'.  

If my charity Brent Advocacy Concerns was still in operation mode, I am sure we would have offered to take the lead for disabled people but after closing down last November, this is no longer possible.

And ironically, we had to close down because we could not afford the rent and now the council are offering to pay the rent for charities and community organisations to remain open in order to meet the challenges that we are all facing.

Also the council have issued an emergency number for vulnerable people to contact them but it is only available Mon-Friday.
The Full Report is below (Click bottom right for full page)

Friday, 20 March 2020

UPDATE-NOW STOOD DOWN Northwick Park Hospital declares 'critical incident' as Covid 19 cases soar

From hsj.co.uk 


UPDATE: Trust Press Office: 'We have now just STOOD DOWN our critical incident status at the hospital. It lasted 24 hrs. It was declared yesterday evening because we didn't have enough capacity.'


A major London hospital has declared a “critical incident” due to a surge in patients with coronavirus, with one senior director in the capital calling the development “petrifying”.
In a message to staff, Northwick Park Hospital in Harrow said it has no critical care capacity left and has contacted neighbouring hospitals about transferring patients who need critical care to other sites.

The message, sent last night and seen by HSJ, said:
“I am writing to let you know that we have this evening declared a ‘critical incident’ in relation to our critical care capacity at Northwick Park Hospital. This is due to an increasing number of patients with Covid-19.

“This means that we currently do not have enough space for patients requiring critical care.
“As part of our system resilience plans, we have contacted our partners in the North West London sector this evening to assist with the safe transfer of patients off of the Northwick Park site”

The hospital is run by London North West University Healthcare Trust, which has reported six deaths related to coronavirus, all at Northwick Park.

The potential lack of critical care beds in England has been the major concern around coronavirus, and trusts are currently repurposing wards and retraining staff to try and create more capacity. National leaders have suggested the number of critical care beds likely needs to rise by several times.

A senior director at another London acute trust told HSJ:
“Given we’re in the low foothills of this virus, this is f***ing petrifying.
“The thing people aren’t really talking about yet is that we are going to have to quickly agree some clinical thresholds for admissions to intensive care. This is what the Italians have had to do, and whether it’s set at 60 or whatever, we are going to have to do something similar. There’s no way we’re going to be able to scale up to the level we need otherwise.
“The trusts in outer London seem to be hit much worse at the moment, probably about two weeks ahead of the rest of the country. Barnet, Lewisham and Greenwich, Epsom and St Helier, North Middlesex and Hillingdon are all struggling.
“I was in denial about the seriousness of this virus a couple of weeks ago, but not anymore.
“I’m now on calls with commissioners about getting more people out of hospital and into the community, and they’re saying ’yes that’ll be done in the next week’, and I’m on the verge of screaming at them. Things are going completely nuts.
“And there’s a real problem with private care homes refusing to take patients back unless they’ve been tested for covid-19. But that’s not the national guidance currently and there just aren’t enough testing kits to do it.”
A spokeswoman for LNWHT said:
 “Critical care capacity for patients with coronavirus is being organised on a cross-London basis so that hospitals and organisations work together to deliver the best possible care for patients.

“This kind of coordinated, flexible response is one of the NHS’s strengths but with staff pulling out all the stops they need the public to play their part too, by following the expert guidance on washing your hands, staying at home and using health services responsibly.”

AT LAST! The government's key worker list for allocation of places in schools from next week

The government has made it extremely difficult for schools  to plan provision for the new era of 'in  school but not school' which begins on Monday. In Brent headteachers will be meeting early this morning with the Director of Child and Young People to plan provision in Brent which will probably be via clusters of schools.

This is the government guidelines for schools:

As a country, we all need to do what we can to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
That is why the government has given clear guidance on self-isolation, household isolation and social distancing.

And the most recent scientific advice on how to further limit the spread of COVID-19 is clear. If children can stay safely at home, they should, to limit the chance of the virus spreading.

That is why the government has asked parents to keep their children at home, wherever possible, and asked schools to remain open only for those children who absolutely need to attend.

It is important to underline that schools, colleges and other educational establishments remain safe places for children. But the fewer children making the journey to school, and the fewer children in educational settings, the lower the risk that the virus can spread and infect vulnerable individuals in wider society.

Schools are, therefore, being asked to continue to provide care for a limited number of children - children who are vulnerable and children whose parents are critical to the Covid-19 response and cannot be safely cared for at home.

Vulnerable children include children who are supported by social care, those with safeguarding and welfare needs, including child in need plans, on child protection plans, ‘looked after’ children, young carers, disabled children and those with education, health and care (EHC) plans.

We know that schools will also want to support other children facing social difficulties and we will support head teachers to do so.

Parents whose work is critical to the COVID-19 response include those who work in health and social care and in other key sectors outlined below. Many parents working in these sectors may be able to ensure their child is kept at home. And every child who can be safely cared for at home should be.

Please, therefore, follow these key principles:
  1. If it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they should be.
  2. If a child needs specialist support, is vulnerable or has a parent who is a critical worker, then educational provision will be available for them.
  3. Parents should not rely for childcare upon those who are advised to be in the stringent social distancing category such as grandparents, friends, or family members with underlying conditions.
  4. Parents should also do everything they can to ensure children are not mixing socially in a way which can continue to spread the virus. They should observe the same social distancing principles as adults.
  5. Residential special schools, boarding schools and special settings continue to care for children wherever possible.
If your work is critical to the COVID-19 response, or you work in one of the critical sectors listed below, and you cannot keep your child safe at home then your children will be prioritised for education provision:

Health and social care

This includes but is not limited to doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, care workers, and other frontline health and social care staff including volunteers; the support and specialist staff required to maintain the UK’s health and social care sector; those working as part of the health and social care supply chain, including producers and distributers of medicines and medical and personal protective equipment.

Education and childcare

This includes nursery and teaching staff, social workers and those specialist education professionals who must remain active during the COVID-19 response to deliver this approach.

Key public services

This includes those essential to the running of the justice system, religious staff, charities and workers delivering key frontline services, those responsible for the management of the deceased, and journalists and broadcasters who are providing public service broadcasting.

Local and national government

This only includes those administrative occupations essential to the effective delivery of the COVID-19 response or delivering essential public services such as the payment of benefits, including in government agencies and arms length bodies.

Food and other necessary goods

This includes those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery as well as those essential to the provision of other key goods (for example hygienic and veterinary medicines).

Public safety and national security

This includes police and support staff, Ministry of Defence civilians, contractor and armed forces personnel (those critical to the delivery of key defence and national security outputs and essential to the response to the COVID-19 pandemic), fire and rescue service employees (including support staff), National Crime Agency staff, those maintaining border security, prison and probation staff and other national security roles, including those overseas.

Transport

This includes those who will keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating during the COVID-19 response, including those working on transport systems through which supply chains pass.

Utilities, communication and financial services

This includes staff needed for essential financial services provision (including but not limited to workers in banks, building societies and financial market infrastructure), the oil, gas, electricity and water sectors (including sewerage), information technology and data infrastructure sector and primary industry supplies to continue during the COVID-19 response, as well as key staff working in the civil nuclear, chemicals, telecommunications (including but not limited to network operations, field engineering, call centre staff, IT and data infrastructure, 999 and 111 critical services), postal services and delivery, payments providers and waste disposal sectors.

If workers think they fall within the critical categories above they should confirm with their employer that, based on their business continuity arrangements, their specific role is necessary for the continuation of this essential public service.

If your school is closed then please contact your local authority, who will seek to redirect you to a local school in your area that your child, or children, can attend.

We are grateful for the work of teachers and workers in educational settings for continuing to provide for the children of the other critical workers of our country. It is an essential part of our national effort to combat this disease.