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HIW Activity Update

Throughout the pandemic HIW has been keeping its activity under close review, risk assessing every piece of work to ensure it is appropriate and proportionate given the ongoing pandemic situation.

As winter pressures have continued, rates of COVID-19 transmission have also been increasing, including the emergence of the Omicron variant. In light of the latest scientific evidence on this variant, which shows a possible higher transmissibility, the latest modelling for the coming months and the need to focus on the booster vaccination programme, it is right that we take a cautious approach to reduce burden on those services most affected. We have, therefore, taken the decision to act early to ensure HIWs work programme remains proportionate.

In the first instance, we will be cancelling all routine NHS onsite inspection work for the rest of December and January. We will, however, still undertake onsite inspection work where we consider there to be a high risk to patient safety as a result of specific issues that we are aware of and where it is not possible to gain assurance remotely. All other work for this period will be conducted remotely and, as per the early phases of the pandemic, we are providing early sight of planned Quality Checks so that health boards can plan ahead and engage with us on any challenges that they face as a result of the schedule.

At this stage, our work programme for independent healthcare settings and dental practices will remain unchanged. We will, however, continue to risk assess every piece of work that is planned and will issue booking letters for all announced activity in January 2022 within the next week. This should enable settings to prepare and plan any contributions that we ask them to make and some additional time to engage with us on any particular challenges facing them as the pandemic continues through the winter months. To help us regularly assess our work programme it is as important as ever to let us know at the earliest opportunity about challenges faced, including COVID-19 cases and workforce pressures, as a result of the ongoing pandemic situation.

We will continue to deliver work which underpins our reviews programme, but will do so in a way which does not introduce unnecessary burden on services over the coming months.