Top Doncaster NHS officials warn of covid risk from plan to let spectators into St Leger

Senior Doncaster NHS officials have raised concerns over plans to allow spectators into this month’s St Leger.

By David Kessen
Friday, 4th September 2020, 7:00 am

Doncaster NHS Clinical Commissioning Group board member Dr Emyr Jones, asked Thursday’s board meeting about the plans to use the St Leger as a pilot for the safe return of spectators to racing, asking if the NHS clinical commissioning group was consulted, whether it had concerns over the plans, and if it had contingency measures.

Chief officer at the Doncaster CCG, Jackie Pederson, said the CCG was not consulted over the plans to admit spectators, but confirmed there were concerns over the plans.

She said: “As an executive we are concerned. If you have a significant number of individuals in an environment where it’s potentially difficult to social distance, and people are coming in from outside Doncaster, then yes, we are concerned, because it could cause a risk.

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The sell out crowds in the County Enclosure at the 2019 St Leger Festival Ladies Day. Picture: Liz Mockler D7099LM

"It could cause a negative impact on the people of Doncaster. There will be a lot of people coming into Doncaster, and that is a risk, because Doncaster has a very low level of covid at present.

"There may be a lot of Doncaster people at the race.

"I agree with Ros Jones.”

Ms Pederson said NHS teams were preparing to stand back up if the race day brought a rise in cases, and had trigger thresholds for bringing back systems such as the community hub for covid cases for GPs that was operating when coronavirus cases were at their peak earlier in the year.

She said mayor Mrs Jones had written to the health secretary Matt Hancock asking for a number of tests to be met, which had been requested by Doncaster’s director of public health, Dr Rupert Suckling, before a decision is made whether the race goes ahead with or without spectators.

Chairman of the CCG, Dr David Crichton, added: “Like most of us, I first heard about this in the press, and it was a surprise to all of us.

"If it does go ahead we will do our part in making it as safe for people as possible.”

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