In a post coronavirus world we need a better model to kick in when and if another pandemic strikes. The council emergency planning was devoid of any action to be taken in the event of a health pandemic. The three local community hubs have been brilliant and are making a difference to the lonely, vulnerable and isolated in their communities. We thank and applaud all the volunteers.
GP surgeries hold information on us all. This information could in a national emergency be shared with the right authorities to help and enable a focused response, such as that given by the community hubs.
Our Councils too hold data on their electoral registers. This would be of use as well. Much of the data held by our GP’s and Council can easily be translated onto excel spreadsheets, google maps, open maps and other technologies. This use of data and technology would help and assist volunteers helping out at any future community hubs.
Now some will say that GDPR and the DPA kick in. That’s true, it does. However, Article 23 of the GDPR creates the right for Member States to introduce derogations to data protection law in certain situations. This covers national emergencies. However, there would need to be specific provisions and safeguards put in place. This would not be difficult to do. Once in place, it would allow the data to be shared to help those in need. Of course, if you didn’t want your data shared then you could always opt out.
Those involved in the community hubs could be retained and trained annually, so that in any future pandemic event they would hit the ground running with the data they need to assist them on the frontline.
In 2014 Ilfracombe set up their own Neighbourhood Health Watch to help reduce isolation and improve health and wellbeing. Practical measures such as picking up a pint of milk, picking up a prescription, delivery small amounts of shopping have they say made a difference. Such little interventions that most of us take for granted, mean a lot to those people who are on their own and vulnerable.
The Ilfracombe team say, that six years worth of data and getting to know their neighbours has helped them reach the vulnerable in their community during this pandemic .
Kent County Council and our district councils could help fund such schemes. This would make sense, because when or if another pandemic strikes, they’ll have boots on the ground ready to go armed with all the data they need to help those most in need.
This is something our Emergency Services, Health Services and local authorities need to give some serious thought to in the post coronavirus world. We hope they will.
The Shepwayvox Team
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