Weekly update from Cheshire and Merseyside’s Directors of Public Health – 25th June 2021

The Cheshire & Merseyside (C&M) Directors of Public Health (DsPH) currently meet for weekly calls. The key messages from the 25th June meeting are as follows:

  1. Suicide real time surveillance data reporting – Sue Forster, who is working part-time on mental health and wellbeing for the Champs support team, updated DsPH on the latest figures which has sadly shown an increase in suicide in the Merseyside area. Sue is working with local colleagues to improve reporting including a combined police/coroner system. DsPH and colleagues discussed links with suicide and domestic abuse and this is being looked at along with other risk factors such as the impact of COVID-19.  The No More Suicide Strategy will be refreshed this year.
  2. PHE COVID-19 update – Richard Jarvis of PHE North West reported that all areas are seeing rising rates especially in school age children and working adults. All areas are over 100 cases per 100K of the population. Outbreaks are still mostly within schools and hospitality. With this in mind, DsPH will link into the PHE North West work around the strategy through the Summer and into Autumn/Winter and addressing key issues such as Covid safe events, Long Covid pathways and working effectively with educational settings and workplaces.
  3. Flu update – Tricia Spedding from NHSE C&M shared flu uptake figures for last Winter which showed a significant increase in most areas. The North West had the highest number of health care workers vaccinated. There was no increase in the number of pregnant women having a flu jab so there will be a targeted approach to this group going forward. It is anticipated, but not yet confirmed, that the vaccine will be offered to all primary and secondary school pupils and 50-64 year olds, without health conditions, will be vaccinated at the same time as other groups this year. DsPH discussed the capacity challenges in the system to deliver flu and COVID vaccinations and the potential for other models of delivery. DsPH thanked Tricia and the team for the helpful update and all their hard work.
  4. Events – DsPH discussed a common approach to events pre and post 19 July. It was agreed to produce some consistent guidance which can be issued.
  5. Good news and gratitude
    • DsPH thanked all colleagues who have done such a great job engaging communities and encouraging them to get vaccinated and tested. There are lots of examples by community response teams that have made a real difference to important members of our population.
    • Chair, Ian Ashworth, was thanked by colleagues for the papers he shared whilst advocating for vaccine supply.
    • Richard Jarvis, PHE North West, shared that new practitioners have joined who are starting the North West Public Health Practitioner Scheme and public health training. DsPH were pleased to hear new people joining the profession.