The COVID-19 pandemic has had major impacts on Wiltshire Council and its services. It has put finances under further pressure, required responses from staff across the organisation, particularly in areas such as public health and social care, and affected many council services.
In Wiltshire, while the weekly case rate has been relatively low, standing at 356 per 100,000 people in January, compared to 520 nationally, many have been affected, some tragically through the deaths of relatives or friends, others through illness, loss of jobs or businesses, loneliness, stress or anxiety.
For example, one-third of young people with a history of mental health needs say their mental health has worsened.
Council staff have responded superbly by implementing a Local Outbreak Management Plan including provision for care homes, testing and tracing and looking after vulnerable people, but the pandemic leaves the county and the council with even more challenges than it had before.
We plan to set up a COVID public advisory panel to collaborate and advise on policy and action planning. Following the Liberal Democrat principle of involving local people in decisions, this group will include people who have had COVID and recovered, those who felt isolation during the pandemic, those who lost jobs and others affected.
The advisory panel can contribute to the development, implementation and assessment of policies that respond to the effects of COVID.