Meeting documents

SCC Somerset Health and Wellbeing Board & Integrated Care Partnership
Monday, 21st March, 2022 11.00 am

  • Meeting of Somerset Health and Wellbeing Board & Integrated Care Partnership, Monday 21st March 2022 11.00 am (Item 26.)

To receive and consider the report.


Jessica Bishop, Health Protection Manager, and Alison Bell, Consultant in Public Health, made the presentation of the Health Protection Forum Assurance Report for 2021, which was produced to provide assurance to the HWBB that they are protecting the community from communicable diseases and environmental hazards.  The Health Protection Forum includes District Councils, NHS Somerset, UK Health Security Agency, Somerset County Council, and other bodies. 

It was noted that in 2021 they were principally responding to the pandemic and most non-Covid work was on hold, but there were still 74 outbreaks, 3 complex TB cases, and other problems.  Infectious diseases capitalise on weaknesses, so they often affect people living in adverse conditions.  The key areas of success for Health Protection in 2021 were as follows:

·         Communicable Diseases – An action group for blood-borne diseases like hepatitis and HIV; avian influenza

·         Environmental Hazards – Air quality steering group, SCC Public Health and Civil Contingencies Unit assisting people with cold homes/fuel poverty

·         Infection Prevention Control – Principally in response to Covid

·         Resilience – Offsite Emergency Plan test carried out at Hinckley

·         Screening and Immunisations – Local immunisation group, immunisations in schools, HEAT (Health Equity Assessment Tool), backlog reduction or elimination in screening programmes


The key areas for improvement were:

·         Treatment of TB – Somerset has a low incidence of TB, but treatment completion remains lower than national levels at 68.8%

·         Breast cancer screening – There has been a delay in the deadline for recovery; this is now August 2022

·         Radiation Monitoring Unit capacity – Regional plan

·         Childhood immunisation coverage


The priorities for 2022 include collaboration with the Somerset ICS, the Musgrove and Yeovil hospitals coming under one NHS provider trust, the Local Health Resilience Partnership moving within ICS boundaries, and the transition to a unitary authority (Somerset Council).  Another priority is preserving the legacy of the joined up working and behavioural changes learned during the Covid pandemic, retaining the capacity to respond and building a better system.  An important matter that was noted was the standing down of the Covid Engagement Board, which means that updates on Covid will now be received by HWBB.

 The Chair stated that she was reassured by the depth of detail in the report and asked for questions and comments.  The Director of Public Health also thanked the presenters for the report and breadth of work, especially behind the scenes.  She is keen to have a really good look at the system response, actions and proposals, especially with the ongoing development of the ICB, and would like it brought back to a future HWBB meeting.  The Chair agreed, asking whether we should be aware of additional risks and the ability to protect the population from them.  It was replied that Health Protection does scan/monitor what is occurring globally; avian flu is currently a concern, for example, and there is a need to have good surveillance systems.  Cold weather and current fuel prices are also a threat; resources for assisting with heating are being signposted.  It is also being encouraged from the health protection viewpoint that everyone gets the flu vaccine in the autumn, as well as childhood vaccinations, where a drop in the rate of uptake has been seen.


The Advisory Somerset Health and Wellbeing Board noted the report and is minded to endorse the priorities proposed for 2022/23 to ensure the strengthening of health protection as Somerset goes through several crucial transitions.


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