Renfrewshire Council

Message from Chief Executive, Sandra Black - 1 May 2020

Hello everyone, It has been another exceptionally busy week for council staff as we move through week 6 of lockdown and I want to thank everyone for their commitment to deliver local services and play their part in the national effort. The latest news from UK Government is that we have thankfully passed the peak of the crisis for now, but it is critical that current measures remain in place to continue to prevent the spread of the virus.

I want to thank you for continuing to follow advice to stay home and stay safe wherever possible and also remind you to please only travel for essential purposes. We have heard this week that our roads are becoming busier and how important it is to continue to follow the measures now, so that we can move closer to restrictions being lifted. 

In the face of such hard times, I am very proud to see so many wonderful comments coming from local people, thanking our staff for the services and care they are providing. These messages of support show how much staff and services are valued by our communities and this has been echoed further this week by the Council Leader and elected members, who have used a video message to show their support and gratitude to staff. It is a lovely message and I hope you have the chance to tune in and hear for yourself how much your hard work is appreciated.

This week, I was very pleased to announce that council staff carrying out key worker roles can now be tested for Covid-19 if they begin to display symptoms of the virus. The expansion of testing was announced by Scottish Government last weekend and means frontline staff and key workers,and those in their household who areshowing symptoms, will be able to quickly find out whether they have the virus, and help people return to work as quickly as possible if they are fit and well. This will offer a great deal of reassurance for our workforce and the people we are supporting and caring for day to day.  Please take some time to visit the council website to check if your role is included in a key worker category and what to do if you think you need a test. It is important that you act fast if you begin to experience symptoms of the virus - such as a high temperature or a persistent cough, as testing needs to take place within the first three days of symptoms appearing. Please contact your manager as soon as possible so that we can provide support and make sure you are able to self-refer.

You will be aware this week of the toll that Coronavirus is continuing to have on care homes across the country. This is a devastating situation for families and carers.

I want to offer my sincere thanks to our Health and Social Care Partnership and all our home care teams who are working tirelessly to provide care and support families. I am also aware of the support the health and care team are extending to Private care providers to help them battle the virus. I want to reassure you that we are doing everything possible to protect residents and staff, and we have every measure in place to minimise the risk of our older people becoming unwell. Our thoughts are with everyone who is coping with this illness or the loss of a loved one at this time.

Making sure staff have access to the right PPE continues to be a priority and I would like to reassure you that we are working with our partners to monitor our supply daily, and to make sure that the right PPE gets to the teams who need it. I would also like to draw your attention to updated guidance on what kit is required for non-health care teams such as community meal drivers, emergency plumbers and our waste collection teams. This information is available on our website where you can check what is required for each role and situation. If you have any concerns about PPE, please contact your local health and safety rep or email the Health and Safety team who are on hand to provide help and advice.

In last week's message I touched on the long-lasting effects of this public health crisis on our economy and the important role the council will play in Renfrewshire's recovery - supporting people and communities, our town centres and businesses. We are already working hard to plan how we might balance the gradual re-introduction of services with ongoing measures to prevent infection and manage the financial cost of crisis. You may have seen an article in the media this week that claimed the council was 'running out of cash'. I want to reassure you that the claim made by the media is incorrect and doesn't accurately reflect the discussion at our Emergency Board.  There is no doubt that that the pandemic is creating significant financial pressure for the council and all public services, but I want to assure you that we are working closely with councils across Scotland, COSLA and Scottish Government, to find ways to overcome the challenges and to find the 'new normal' that will allow us to support local people and live and work safely and well.

The approach that will guide recovery decisions over the coming months has been set out by Scottish Government in their COVID-19 Framework for Decision Making, published last week. This outlines the values and principles that will shape our journey and links closely to the values that already guide the council in its decision making.

Before I sign off, I would like to personally thank everyone who has volunteered to postpone leaving the council as part of the Right for Renfrewshire programme and who will continue with the council until next March. I would also like to wish all those who are still due to leave, the very best for the future and to thank you for your commitment over the years, and especially in the past few months. 

Finally, I hope you have a lovely weekend and the opportunity to connect with the people who matter most to you. If you are working through, please find some time to relax and make sure your downtime is not too far away.

Thank you and please stay safe and well.