To be presented by Dr Jane O’Grady, Director of Public Health.
Dr Jane O’Grady, Director of Public Health, provided a presentation, appended to the minutes. It was now one year on and the cumulative number of Covid-19 cases in Buckinghamshire (up to 29 March 2021) exceeded 31,000 since the start of the pandemic. This was an under representation as national testing was not carried out at the start of the pandemic. There had been 1,189 Covid-19 related deaths in Buckinghamshire up to 19 March 2021. The Aylesbury Vale and Wycombe areas were similar to the South East England average; the Chiltern area was below the national and South East England average and South Bucks was above the South East England average. The Buckinghamshire rates overall were lower than the England average. Maps were provided of the Covid-19 cumulative cases in the South East and Buckinghamshire and highlighted the hot spots. Research had been carried out and the following factors were contributors to enduring transmission:
- Higher levels of unmet financial need.
- Greater numbers of people in ‘high contact and/or high risk’ occupations (taxi-cab drivers, chauffeurs, security guards, restaurants and catering managers, nursing auxiliaries, nurses and care home workers).
- More high-density, multi-generational or overcrowded accommodation (the UKs largest households were almost three times more likely to get Covid and 7.5 times more likely to die from it).
- Lower literacy levels and more digital exclusion.
- Less engagement with testing, contact tracing and inability to self-isolate.
The number of deaths was now falling from the peak in January/February due to the highly effective lockdown and work was being undertaken to achieve 100% vaccine uptake. Dr O’Grady stressed the need for everyone to continue to follow the rules after being vaccinated; to get tested and, if positive, self-isolate. Rapid testing was now available at four sites in Buckinghamshire and information was available on the Covid dashboard on the Buckinghamshire Council website.
The following key points were raised during discussion:
- The Chairman highlighted that the ethnic minority community had been disproportionately affected by the pandemic; however, inequalities was a theme for the Health and Wellbeing Board (HWB), and a significant amount of work was being carried out in this area. Dr O’Grady added that information on Covid-19 and the vaccine was being shared via community leaders, members from ethnic communities, social media and online videos. Generally, the vaccine uptake was good; however, pop-up vaccine clinics had been organised in areas where the uptake was low. Long term health and wellbeing recovery plans, including mental health, which all partners had contributed to, would also be addressed. Work would be undertaken to co-design an approach which the communities and the NHS would be able to deliver.
- Dr Sian Roberts, Clinical Director, Mental Health, Learning Disabilities and Dementia, highlighted that there were other populations at risk who may not be as visible and asked how vaccine uptake could be increased in these vulnerable groups. Dr O’Grady advised that statistics were shared with key groups on a weekly basis but agreed that any suggestions of ways to share information within primary care would be helpful.
- Gareth Drawmer, Head of Achievement and Learning, provided an update on the Covid-19 cases in schools and advised that out of 60,500 pupils in school, 46 pupils had tested positive (18 cases in primary schools, 27 cases in secondary schools and one case in a special school). 49 teachers were absent due to Covid-19 related issues.
- Dr Raj Bajwa, Clinical Chair, advised that an issue with the data transmission had been escalated and, when resolved, the data system would provide the vaccine uptake by ethnicity at a practice level which would help support some of the initiatives.