Health chiefs across Bedfordshire are leading the way in the fight against the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19) which is sweeping across the globe.
Amid constantly updated government advice, the county’s clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) will monitor their response at scheduled meetings in public this week.
But those proceedings will be held in private to ensure public safety and for a fuller debate about the spread of coronavirus and how local needs can be met.
In an official statement on their websites Luton and Bedfordshire CCGs said: “The CCG will be holding the scheduled governing body meeting for March in private.
“This shorter private meeting is in response to the coronavirus outbreak, as it will reduce the risk of transmission.
“It will also help clinical attendees focus on their response to the outbreak.”
Luton CCG was due to meet at Youthscape in Luton on Tuesday, (March 17th) while Bedfordshire CCG opted for a new venue, the Forest Centre at Marston Moretaine, on Thursday. (March 19th)
The decisions were confirmed in an email from the joint communications team which said: “Due to the coronavirus, we are only convening the governing bodies for Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes (BLMK) to discuss the coronavirus in private.”
The governing board meetings usually update the public and media about various aspects of the CCG’s activity, including pressures on services, commissioning performance, relevant health trends, finance and joint working groups.
Although sparsely attended, they fall under the coverage of the local democracy reporting service and attract significant interest from patient groups in circumstances such as the current crisis.
The CCGs are accountable to NHS England and also have aspects of their performance scrutinised by Luton Borough Council, Central Bedfordshire Council and Bedford Borough Council.
As well as the three local authorities contributing to a joint health working group, the CCGs have representatives on the council’s health and wellbeing boards or are held to account by other committees where issues overlap.
Meanwhile, local communities are grouping together to support each other if the situation worsens.
by Local Democracy Reporter Euan Duncan
with additional reporting by the Bedford Independent