C&M DsPH weekly update w/e 29.1.21

The Cheshire & Merseyside (C&M) Directors of Public Health (DsPH) currently meet for weekly calls. The key messages from the 29th January meeting are as follows:

  1. Joint working with JBC – Lucy Appleton from the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) joined the DsPH to talk about how C&M can safely move out of lockdown. Lucy sits on the national working group which will provide recommendations to the Cabinet Office regarding the criteria for de-escalation.  Lucy agreed to work closely with DsPH.
  2. PHE update – Sam Ghebrehewet updated that rates continue to decline and 70-80% of cases in C&M are of the new variant. The latest research shows that there is no difference in the severity of the illness with the new variant.
  3. De-escalation framework – A draft C&M threshold document, developed by Sam Ghebrehewet, was discussed and will be considered further with DsPH
  4. Test, Trace & Contain (TTC) framework– Julie Webster updated on the work with PHE to develop a framework for a new operating model for TTC. The framework will specify the functions required at each level, local, North West and nationally.
  5. Vaccination position statementDsPH are reviewing a statement developed by Halton Council with a view to agreeing a consistent approach across C&M to vaccinations. A letter from DsPH has been sent to the NHS offering public health expertise around the roll out of the vaccine as per ADPH guidance.
  6. Good news and gratitude – The DsPH shared good news and gratitude:
    • A new C&M training course for enhanced contact tracing was launched Monday 25th January, thank you to all colleagues involved.
    • Two campaigns are up and running. Let’s Keep Talking is aimed at young people, those who might be isolated and key workers who may be struggling due to COVID. It refers those who need help to the Samaritans, Shout and the Kind to your mind website. A new burst of social media activity for Spread the facts, not the virus campaign started this week targeting people from 20-40 years old. www.spreadthefacts.co.uk
    • Good progress on the vaccination roll out in the top four priority groups, huge thanks to all colleagues working in this area.
    • Flu vaccination uptake has been excellent in C&M hospitals with many meeting targets for staff being vaccinated.
    • Good media coverage this week on the joint statement from DsPH asking supermarkets to adhere to public health guidance with several interviews taking place.

Finally Sue Forster, Director of Public Health in St Helens and lead DPH for mental wellbeing and suicide prevention in C&M announced she will be retiring. Recruitment is underway for a new DPH in St Helens. DsPH expressed their very best wishes to Sue who has been an instrumental part of the DsPH group.