9.1. The Board considered a report seeking approval of the refreshed East Sussex Outbreak Control Plan.
9.2. The Board asked about how many people in East Sussex had received both vaccine doses.
9.3. Darrell Gale said approximately two thirds of the over 18 population had received two vaccinations based on the most recent data from 9th July. This included more than 90% of the clinically extremely vulnerable, over 75, over 80, care home residents, and residential care home workers. There are areas where uptake is lower and the Public Health Team is working to improve vaccination rates including parts of Eastbourne, Hastings and Forest Row.
9.4. The Board asked whether advice would be issued about mask wearing in schools.
9.5. Darrell Gale said that directing schools to enforce mask wearing involved getting sign off from a number of Department for Health and Social Care national committees. Instead, the Public Health team strongly recommend to schools that they continue with face masks in communal areas. There has been close working throughout the pandemic with the Director of Children’s Service and headteachers to co-produce guidance to schools that schools will find realistic and achievable to implement and it has so far worked very well. Any more stringent recommendations, such as wearing masks in classrooms would need to be considered in the context of rising cases but also an approaching end of the school year.
9.6. The Board asked what would be done if a different pandemic arises locally.
9.7. Darrell Gale said his team works with emergency planning to horizon scan and build on learning from the COVID-19 pandemic, which is not yet over, to ensure there is greater resilience for future pandemics and other incidents. It is probable that seasonal flu will be more of an issue this year due to suppressed immunity amongst residents.
9.8. The Board RESOLVED to:
1) approve the revised East Sussex Outbreak Control Plan (appendix 1); and
2) agree to receive an update at its 30 September 2021 meeting.
37.1. The Board considered a report seeking approval of the refreshed East Sussex Outbreak Control Plan.
37.2. The Board heard a verbal update from Darrell Gale, Director of Public Health, on the number of cases in East Sussex, and from Joe Chadwick-Bell, the Chief Executive of East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (ESHT), on the current impact of COVID-19 on the acute hospitals in East Sussex.
37.3. The Board asked if testing and tracing is still important despite the vaccine now becoming available.
37.4. Darrell Gale confirmed that testing and tracing people with COVID-19 was still absolutely vital. Particularly as the next phase of the pandemic will likely see a plateau in overall case rates that hides wild fluctuations across the county, as small outbreaks occur against the backdrop of few or no cases, particularly as schools return and become a potential source of outbreaks. In this scenario, testing people and tracing outbreaks early will help prevent outbreaks spreading.
37.5. The Director of Public Health reminded the Board that the country was still in lockdown and people were required to stay home or remain local if getting essential supplies. Despite this, the good weather, vaccine programme and road map out of lockdown was likely to change people’s behaviour, particularly the working age, non-vaccinated people aged 20-45 who will inevitably end up transmitting the virus.
37.6. The Board asked whether the vaccine has impacted on hospital admissions.
37.7. Darrell Gale said it is difficult to see the effect of the vaccine on transmission, but it is clearly impacting on hospitalisations and deaths.
37.8. The Board asked why the workforce programme for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities was targeting BAME women who are pregnant.
37.9. Darrell Gale said pregnant BAME women were an example of intersectionality of multiple deprivation, i.e., they are a group who are at a higher risk from harm from COVID-19 for a number of reasons.
37.10. The Board asked about whether the British Army is still involved in rolling out the vaccines.
37.11. Siobhan Melia, Chief Executive of Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust (SCFT) – the lead provider of the mass vaccination centres in Sussex – said the main issue in the beginning had been the vaccine supply, but this was due to the lack of supply coming off the production line not the ability to get it to the vaccine centres. The Army had provided early assistance in short bursts where there had been delays in getting sufficient staff, however, this was no longer an issue as SCFT and GP practices (for local vaccine centres) had sufficient numbers in place. SCFT has now organised 1,200 professionals and volunteers as of this week into the vaccine programme in the various vaccine centres in Sussex such as at Etchingham, Devonshire Quarter in Eastbourne, the Brighton Centre, Crawley and Chichester.
37.12. The Board RESOLVED to:
1) approve the revised East Sussex Outbreak Control Plan (appendix 1);
2) agree to receive a further report at its 13 July 2021 ... view the full minutes text for item 37
28.1. The Board considered a report seeking approval of the refreshed East Sussex Outbreak Control Plan.
28.2. The Board asked what the future would be for the testing sites and the mobile testing units during 2021.
28.3. Darrell Gale confirmed that testing will be needed alongside vaccination sites for some considerable time to come yet. The testing capacity in East Sussex includes a core of mobile test sites, which will this week be in Heathfield and Hastings, that are deployed in locations that ensure there is a wide geographic spread of testing available and that testing is available in those areas where numbers are increasing.
28.4. Darrell Gale explained that the current test sites are offering the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests that take 24 hours or more to get a result but are more accurate than lateral flow tests. Lateral flow testing give an indicative result within about half an hour and can be used for mass testing, such as has been used in Liverpool; used in care homes to allow relatives to visit care home residents; and used where there has been an outbreak, such as in Medway. Discussions are ongoing whether there is the need in East Sussex to scale up lateral flow testing given the logistics needed, but currently there does not appear to be the need to do so.
28.5. The Board asked for an update on the two Sussex Health and Care Partnership BAME COVID-19 disparity programme workstreams set up to reduce illness and mortality amongst BAME health and care workers and the BAME general population.
28.6. Darrell Gale said that the two workstreams will be reporting early in the new year, as they still require further work. This is because the workstreams are relying on very dated data from the 2011 census survey to understand the communities, so more work had to be done initially to update this information. One of the workstreams includes a needs assessment of the whole of Sussex of the BAME communities.
28.7. The Board asked how the previous report into the impact of COVID-19 on the BAME community by Hastings Voluntary Actions was commissioned, as the report did not include the experiences of the BAME health and care workers and the report’s Board did not have any women on it.
28.8. Darrell Gale said he did not know the detail of the HVA report or its remit, however, he said he would liaise outside the meeting to understand more about the concerns of the BAME community in Hastings had with the report and how best they can be engaged with across the county. He agreed it was unusual to have a panel comprising solely of men.
28.9. The Board asked for more information on how the vaccine will be rolled out.
28.10. Darrell Gale said that the priority groups and logistics for the roll out of the vaccine are changing daily. The Pfizer vaccine is distributed in large batches of 975 and has to be stored at a ... view the full minutes text for item 28
18.1. The Board considered a report seeking approval of the refreshed East Sussex Outbreak Control Plan (OCP).
18.2. The Board asked for an update on the study into why the Covid-19 outbreak was much lower in Hastings than elsewhere in the country.
18.3. Darrell Gale, Director of Public Health, said the University of Sussex study was progressing and the researcher, Steve Orchard, had been in contact recently with the Leader of Hastings Borough Council. He is expected to begin talking to others shortly about the data and qualitative information around why people believe that the rates in Hastings were so low, including the Chief Executive of ESHT. He said it was possible an interim findings could be provided in time for the December Board meeting, which will be included as part of the Outbreak Control Plan item.
18.4. The Board asked whether live music events should be added to the list of high risk places.
18.5. Darrell Gale said that the Public Health Team (PH) had been surprised as the speed at which people had begun setting up events and creating new types of events, such as drive through parties, teahouse lawns in Wealden area, and live music events on Hastings Pier. The PH works closely with the district and borough licensing and environmental health teams and expects that all of these events will have completed a risk assessment. He said, however, there is often a short turnaround to for the PH to respond to request for event licenses. There is also an existing Safety Advisory Group that manages events under normal circumstances, which is a multi-agency group with environmental health colleagues that approve larger events.
18.6. Darrell Gale advised that the PH would be able to prevent events going ahead where they posed a risk or were not exempt from the rule of six measures. He used the example of the public health team in Southampton recently managing to stop the Southampton Boat Show going ahead due to a rise in cases there. The Boat Show objected to the Secretary of State, who sided with the local authority.
18.7. He added that Bonfire night is a big night coming up and some bonfire societies have cancelled already. PH is working with the Lewes Bonfire Societies around which aspects can go ahead, for example, the honouring of the Martyrs.
18.8. The Board asked whether there have been discussions with care home agencies about assisting them with outbreaks.
18.9. Darrell Gale said that an inter-agency group meeting is held every week that includes ESHT, Public Health and Adult Social Care Department. This looks in detail at care homes, including communications with the care sector; any outbreaks emerging; and testing rates of staff and residents. Members of the group are also in regular contact with the sector.
18.10. The Board asked about the performance of test and trace and access to national data
18.11. Darrell Gale clarified that Test and Trace was a national NHS programme and not ... view the full minutes text for item 18