To receive an update from the Executive Member for Health, Wellbeing, and Equalities.
The Executive Member for Health Wellbeing and Equalities introduced the item and thanked the Director of Public Health and the public health team for the work they had done to prepare the report and in dealing with the ongoing pandemic. The Executive Member handed over to the Public Health Consultant to provide an update on testing. The Committee were informed that the ambition had been to have a range of testing options available in the area which had been achieved. There was a backlog in supplying test and receiving results but this was a national issue. Care homes offered regular testing to residents and staff and had been proactive in their approach to dealing with COVID 19. Schools had a very small set of testing kits available to offer to families who could not visit testing sites and schools were having issues in ordering additional testing kits. Trafford would be maintaining the testing sites within the borough which was a positive outcome and the focus was on ensuring that residents were being tested when they had symptoms.
Councillor Williams thanked the public health team for the work that they had done in establishing the Partington testing site, especially around the excellent communications and engagement. Councillor Williams had asked at a previous meeting to have data on the number of hospitalisations in the area to be added to the weekly update sent to Members which had not yet been done and asked that this be added. Councillor Williams noted that in the report on flu vaccinations there were concerns about a possible lack of availability of vaccinations and asked whether those concerns had abated since the report was written. The Director in Public Health responded that the hospitalisation data would be added to the weekly update. There was a delay of around two weeks between increase in cases and any hospitalisations that resulted from the infections. Given the age profile of the people who had been contracting COVID 19 it was unlikely that there would be much of a spike in the level of hospitalisations. With regards to the flu vaccinations GPS were working very hard in an attempt to maximise coverage and the Council were encouraging people to get the vaccination if possible. Those over 65 or with pre-existing conditions were being prioritised and there was a large drive within schools. Due to the restrictions on contact people needed to have an appointment in place rather than just turning up for vaccinations.
The Executive Member for Adult Social Services addressed the report that had been made on Channel 4 during the week which had made it seem that Trafford had been sending COVID positive patients into care homes. The Executive Member assured the Committee that the story had been a miss interpretation of the facts and that all patients were being tested prior to being discharged from hospital, which Trafford had been doing since March. A winter plan for Trafford was being developed and the Executive Member offered to bring the plan to scrutiny prior to winter.
Councillor Barclay asked whether Trafford schools had sufficient test for children. The Director of Public Health responded that there were issues with the number of tests available for schools and there was expected to be a delay in receiving more tests. The Consultant in public Health added that schools were given a set of tests for children who were deemed to be vulnerable, children who would struggle to get tests elsewhere, and staff members. Many schools had run out of those tests and had been told that it would be 21 days until new tests were available. Public Health England had come up with a set of criteria to determine how likely a child was to have COVID and what actions the school should take. While these criteria were not a substitute for a test they were effective in minimising the risk of infections spreading.
The Chair asked for more information on contact tracing. The Consultant in Public Health informed the Committee that there were two types of contact tracing in Trafford which were level two, who were people who had not yet been contacted by the national team who needed to be contacted, and complex setting. Level two was working well although demand had been higher than expected. The team had managed to contact 70% of cases that had come through the local system. The service was implementing a new model integrating the service with access Trafford, which would build resilience and help the team manage demand. Trafford had been working on surge capacity to deal with sudden increases in demand and from the 28th September there would be 60 members of staff available to manage demand.
The complex tracing had been busy with workplaces coming through the system. The workplaces that engaged with the team were doing very well and were able to support contract tracing. The biggest pressure point was within schools. There were 29 schools with instances running and there were a number of schools that looked fragile in terms of the number of bubbles who were going out. Regulatory services had been excellent in supporting the contact tracing and going out to work places. The public health team were working with the communications team around pushing the message of how important self-isolation was in combating the virus.
The Chair asked how the contact tracing worked in terms of contacting people who had been in contact with someone who had tested positive. The Consultant in Public Health told the Committee about a case in Urmston where a person had been to a pub and then tested positive. The Committee were informed that the rules would be much tighter following the announcements that had been made.
Councillor Barclay asked whether any progress had been made on back tracing and establishing patterns of transmission to aid in prevention. The Director of Public Health responded that the team were still learning. The team had found that people were reporting having had fewer contacts than would be expected. Once the local contact tracing became more robust and as more was picked up from the national system the team would be able to ask more pertinent questions as to what people had been doing as well as whom their contacts had been. There had been some cases of groups doing their own contact tracing, especially within schools. With the hospitality industry it could be quite difficult to work out form a single case as to where they picked up an infection from as people will have usually have visited a number of venues. The Consultant in Public Health added that Trafford were engaging with the GM contact tracing group and would raise this with them.
There was an issue with businesses using agency staff or staff moving between different locations owned by the same business. Trafford were working with businesses to make their premises as COVID secure as possible. The Director of Public Health informed the Committee of the new community engagement group which would help the team understand the pressures and challenges that people were facing as well as presenting an additional conduit to get messages out into the community.
Councillor Blackburn asked about carers who went to multiple residents and whether the Council was doing everything to protect them and their clients. The Director of Public Health responded that the Council were providing support to Home Care providers through equipment and training to ensure that they are as safe as possible.
1) That the update be noted.
2) That the Council’s winter plan be brought to the Committee before the start of winter.
3) That the Director of Public Health and the other members of the team be thanked for all the work that they have done and continue to do.