North Yorkshire health chief backs Government’s plan not to close schools yet

Simon Cox.

The government’s decision not to close schools at this time to combat the spread of the coronavirus has been backed by a North Yorkshire health chief.

Simon Cox, director of acute commissioning at North Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG), which is responsible for buying health services across the county, said keeping schools open at the moment was the right move.

Mr Cox was addressing a meeting of North Yorkshire County Council’s Scrutiny of Health Committee in Scarborough today and said that the medical advice was sound.

He told the councillors: “I think the advice given by medical experts is sound and the approach being taken in this country thus far is sensible.

“Although there will be a call for more urgent action we are aware, for example, that if we were to close all the schools then one of the biggest impacts we would see in the NHS is the impact of staff having to look after children at home so it is quite right to take those measures at the appropriate time and not to rush into more urgent action before we have to.”

Mr Cox said that some patients in the county may see operations cancelled to ease pressure on hospitals dealing with the outbreak.

He added: “There may be some types of non-urgent procedures that are cancelled to allow for a greater capacity of support in the hospital system and we will be working throughout the system to support hospitals in managing this.

“As with things of this nature there is a huge amount of conversation on social media but the best place to get advice is the NHS 111 number.

“The aim for all of us is to maintain services as close to business as usual as possible but we also have to recognise that there will be impacts on our own staff.

“If we have large numbers of staff having to self isolate for seven days then they will be taken out of other services.”

He added that Scarborough Hospital has set up a “see and swab” pod for those referred by the 111 service.

Before going to a hospital or GP surgery, anyone with initial concerns should call NHS 111 or access the NHS 111 online coronavirus service at