Meeting documents

SCC Somerset Health and Wellbeing Board & Integrated Care Partnership
Monday, 17th January, 2022 11.00 am

  • Meeting of Somerset Health and Wellbeing Board & Integrated Care Partnership, Monday 17th January 2022 11.00 am (Item 17.)

To receive the report.


Trudi Grant, Director of Public Health, presented the APHR, which she noted is the statutory duty of the Director of Public Health.  Last year the report focused on the pandemic’s effects on adults; this year it focuses on the specific impact of covid on children.  The information and experiences were gained from the school survey and focus groups.  The school survey involved 8000 children from 92 schools, while the focus groups involved children aged 11-18 across the county.  It was extremely valuable to get the children’s feedback.


The key findings from the focus groups were that there was a wide diversity of reactions to covid measures and the pandemic.  In general, children of secondary school age were much more negative than those in primary school, probably because there is usually less social life amongst younger children.  The worries of children included missing out, mental health, digital exclusion, lack of services, not seeing family for long periods, difficulties with being around parents all day, eating too much, spending too much time online, and difficulties with sleeping patterns.  However, they were happy with the support received, particularly the peer support.  Positive reactions included the opportunity for spending more time outdoors and doing more school work and reading.  For the future, the return of normality was desired; some children wanted online education while others did not, while some saw another potential lockdown as the last straw.  The most important issue was to keep the children in schools; schools must be the last thing to close.


With respect to the recommendations found in the report, it was noted that the impact of health and social inequalities has been exacerbated and made obvious by the pandemic, and there is a need to address this more in all policies and commissioning.  There is also the need to engage more in Somerset in one unitary fashion, and a need to recognise that children and young people will need more help and support to remedy the effects of the pandemic.  The wellbeing framework needs to develop and extend, and children and young people need to know how to find and utilise it.  With respect to moving from the pandemic stage to endemic status, the vaccine programme will remain critical and infection control behaviours must continue, as the latter have assisted in reducing other infectious diseases as well.


The Director of Children’s Services commented that one issue to note was the social context in which everyone operates, as this has rapidly changed and is now tricky and very different from before.  The move toward online, individualised tuition is both good and bad, as it helps children with studies but not with social interaction.  Inequality has also come to the fore.  It was responded that there is always change with significant events, but the good thing is that we have learned from it; the pandemic has a very long ‘tail’, and we need to be open-minded regarding the change in the needs of the population, both children and adults.  The changes for children and young people could last for years.  It will be necessary to really think about what need to be re-set, such as workplaces and schools, but this need to maximise learning should be seen as a positive.  It was pointed out that a risk lies in telling people that we will be returning to normal, as that can sometimes add to stress levels.  The Chair observed that the concept of family will have changed. 


The Chief Executive-NHS Somerset CCG stated that it was a very helpful report and useful as a record of the pandemic.  With respect to mental health, they have been able to respond with initiatives and improvements, which they need to continue with.  The impact has been far greater on children and young people as the pandemic has been a more significant part of their lives, so their feedback is very important. 


The Chair observed that the earlier point made about all bodies having one way of engaging was very important, and she thanked the Director of Public Health for the report, as well as the Board for their input.


The Somerset Health and Wellbeing Board received and noted the report, and also noted that recommendations had been agreed at the Cabinet meeting.


Supporting documents: