Agenda item

Middlesbrough Council's Response to COVID-19

The Chief Executive and Director of Public Health will be in attendance to provide the Board with an update in respect of the Council’s response to COVID-19.


The Chief Executive delivered a presentation to update the Board in respect of the Council’s response to COVID-19.


With regards to responses to previous OSB queries, the following information was provided:


  • Following an overview of the revisions to be made to the Outbreak Control Plan in light of Lockdown exit arrangements being provided, a query around potential impact of revisions was made.  In response, the Chief Executive advised that in order to provide assurance that relevant systems and processes were in place to respond to outbreaks, enduring transmission and any new variants that may emerge, the OCP was updated / revised as follows:


  1. Care homes: enhanced support extended into care settings to include supported housing, extra care housing and children’s homes and the testing regime in care homes;
  2. Schools: enhanced support was now available to schools, including testing in schools and at home;
  3. High risk settings and the support to reduce risk in those settings;
  4. Updated testing section detailing all the symptomatic and asymptomatic testing available;
  5. Local contact tracing approach added, including support to isolate and local discretionary financial support;
  6. Surge capacity section added describing approach to surge testing for variant(s) of concern;
  7. Sections added on community insights, tackling enduring transmission and building COVID-safe communities;
  8. Section added on vaccines and improving uptake in all communities to minimise health inequalities arising from differential uptake in communities; and
  9. Section added on lessons learnt and feedback to Government.


  • Following an update being provided on up-to-date vaccination numbers in Middlesbrough, confirmation of numbers had been sought as the totals of the age categories did not tally with the overall total.  The Chief Executive advised that these totals, provided at the March 2021 meeting of OSB, included only specific priority groups, so excluded (for example) health and social care and care home staff, and those in priority groups five and six that had already been vaccinated.
  • Community testing numbers were shared and a Member had sought confirmation of numbers tested versus numbers of positive cases confirmed across all sites as a result.  The Chief Executive advised that the total number of tests was 2,883, with 26 total positives (0.90%).
  • Following discussion of vaccination hesitation and a request for provision of vaccination refusal rates, by ethnicity, the Chief Executive advised that data provided by the Primary Care Network (not specifically Middlesbrough) which had a combined population of 160k (against Middlesbrough’s population of 149k and therefore not directly comparable) showed emerging vaccine inequalities (as at 23/03/2021).  Work was being undertaken to better understand Middlesbrough’s local data, and with the Tees Valley Clinical Commissioning Group to develop a Vaccine Equity Plan, to increase uptake of the vaccines across all communities in Middlesbrough and narrow the above gaps over the coming weeks.
  • Following a request for confirmation of the standard PPE provision to Care Homes, the Chief Executive advised that PPE supplies were distributed to health and social care providers (top-up emergency supplies only); education settings; homeless provision; Local Authority staff; testing sites; Domestic Violence refuges; mental health community care; personal assistants; supported living services, extra care provision, and day services.  The standard list of items available were face masks (various), gloves, aprons, visors, eye protections, gowns (surgical and non-surgical) and hand sanitiser.


In terms of the latest local COVID-19 data, as at 7 April 2021 the rolling seven-day rate of cases per 100k of the Middlesbrough population was as follows:


  • Four new cases had been added to the system on 7 April 2021;
  • 48 new cases had been diagnosed in the last seven days;
  • 34.0 rate per 100k of population (last seven days); and
  • 261.70 COVID-19 deaths per 100k population.


Regarding Gold Command decisions made between 5 March 2021 and 31 March 2021, on 11 March 2021 the decision was taken for a further £1m of additional restrictions grant funding to be made available, with an expectation that any uncommitted funds (£3m for Middlesbrough) would be allocated by 31 March 2021.  Single payments of £500 would be made to taxi drivers to cover costs of COVID-19 impact / licensing fees, to a total of £500,000.  Once further guidance was issued, a decision would be made on additional options of spend against a remaining uncommitted £2.5m.


Following the update, Members were afforded the opportunity to ask questions.


A Member queried how GP surgeries would be encouraged to contact those older patients who did not have access to email and/or text facilities.  In response the Board heard that patient lists would be obtained and direct contact made via a telephone call.  It was anticipated that local contact tracing staff would assist with this.


A Member sought clarification in relation to the provision of home appointments for vaccinations for those over the age of 80.  In response, it was explained that this was currently being looked into, particularly in terms of logistical planning.


A Member commended the work of the COVID-19 testing teams at Newport Community Hub, which through his own experience was felt to be very professional and well executed.  The Chief Executive acknowledged this point and commended all staff working at the various testing sites for the work being carried-out.  A Member echoed these comments and congratulated all involved for delivering this invaluable service.


The Chief Executive highlighted that, from 9 April 2021, anyone could test themselves at home twice per week – planning was currently taking place in respect of this.  It was hoped that individuals would be able to attend any one of the four test sites to collect their first test, where they would be assisted in completing it.  Subsequent tests could then be ordered and undertaken at home independently.  In response to a query regarding how long this initiative would last, it was explained that this was unknown at present, however, it was anticipated to last for some time as it was a national push from Government - alongside the vaccination programme.


The Chair thanked the Chief Executive for his attendance and contribution to the meeting.