Local democracy during coronavirus

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Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Remote Meeting

Contact: Democratic Services 

No. Item


Declarations of Interest


Board Members had no interests to declare.


Minutes of the Meeting held on 24 November 2021 pdf icon PDF 146 KB


The Board signed off the minutes as an accurate record of the meeting held on 24 November2021.


Current Covid-19 Situation in York pdf icon PDF 1 MB

Presentation on the day.


Fiona Phillips, Assistant Director of Public Health at City of York Council, informed the Board that the increase in cases seen before Christmas had started to come down, although this was the highest case rate in the pandemic so far, with 863 cases per 100,000 population.  A further rise in cases could be seen as local lockdowns were usually called when the case rate was 100 cases per 100,000. This had largely been from the Omicron variant, which accounted for most of the cases in York.  Fiona reported that the national data set was due to be updated on 31 January and would then include data of people who had contracted covid more than once.


Fiona also reported that there had been an increase of cases in high risk places like schools and care homes.  There had been a large increase in secondary school aged cases before the Christmas period, which had later translated into primary school aged cases.  There were 18 care homes in the CYC areas that had confirmed outbreaks (at least one staff and one resident), though rates in York care homes were lower than the regional and national averages.  Fiona also noted that there were 94 cases in general and acute beds in the hospital and a further four in the ITU.


Triple the normal number of lateral flow tests had been registered over the Christmas period.  Home testing had seen a massive increase, going from1,800 per week to over 50,000.  Fiona noted that these numbers only reflected the tests that were actually registered, meaning the rate was probably even higher.  If funding did not continue, the testing provision would have to be wound down.


The Board noted the update.



Mental Health and the Economy pdf icon PDF 415 KB


James Farrar, representative from the Local Enterprise Partnership, provided an overview of the plans to address the rising needs of mental health and the economy.  James noted the existing mental health issues of the city, which the pandemic had exacerbated.  The Board discussed the different demographics that were more likely to refer themselves to mental health support services.  Even though a lot of economic strategies already included plans that reflected mental health issues, it was agreed that it was an opportune time to review and co-produce the mental health strategy, post-pandemic.  James mentioned that there was some potential funding to help partners work together to better join up health and economy initiatives.  The Board expressed their endorsement of adopting a joint working approach to the issues discussed.


Alison Semmence, Chief Executive of York CVS, also expressed her interest in the joined up approach to ending the stigma around mental health.  James Farrar agreed to progress this outside of the meeting.


Sian Balsom, Manager of Healthwatch York, informed the Board of the Healthwatch Guide which provided an overview of the existing mental health services in York.  Sian encouraged people to share their experiences in finding support, whether it be positive or negative.


The Board noted the update and expressed their commitment to the joint working approach.



Vaccination and Winter Planning Programmes pdf icon PDF 556 KB


·        Vaccine Take Up & Boosters & Flu Vaccine

·         Access to Vaccines and Addressing Vaccine Inequality

Additional documents:


Will McEvoy from Nimbuscare provided an overview of the Vaccination and Winter Planning Programme. The Board discussed the difficulties in getting total uptake of the vaccine while the eligibility criteria of the programme continued to expand.


The Booster Campaign had caused huge activity over the Christmas period, which had helped York achieve a 90% uptake of the first dose.  8,800 doses had been administered in a single day within the Vale of York.  The Board discussed the challenges in addressing the low uptake cohorts and wards.  A targeted approach had been taken, with pop-up clinics and leaflet dropping. GP Practices also continued to send invitations to the unvaccinated populations on their records.


Professor Charlie Jeffery, Vice Chancellor and President of the University of York, informed the Board of the student survey, which showed that at least 70% of students had received their booster vaccine.  The Board discussed how vaccines rates would not be recorded with York’s data if the student/person was registered to a GP Practice outside of the city.  They would be recorded at the place where the individual was registered with a GP Practice.  This was where an issue arose with international students not being registered with a GP at all.


Will McEvoy informed the Board of the success of the Flu Vaccination Programme and how it had received a large uptake. There had been some supply issues reported, which had hampered the roll-out recently.  A walk-in offer would continue to be available at the Askham Bar site.


Councillor Kilbane asked whether anything was currently being progressed to address the wards with low uptake.  Anita Dobson, Nurse Consultant for Public Health at City of York Council, assured the Board that a weekly meeting took place to look at vaccine uptake and collectively innovate to address the issues.  A more local sustainable community based approach was being developed that would service the city in the long-term.


The Board noted the update.



System Pressures

Verbal updates from partners.


Lucy Brown, Director of Communications at York and Scarborough Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, informed the Board of the significant system pressures that had arisen through December and January. The increase in staff absences, among other reasons, had prolonged the waiting times for both the Emergency and Ambulance Departments.  Emergency and cancer surgery had managed to be sustained but other routine planned operations had had to be postponed due to capacity.


James McQuillan, Assistant Director of Delivery and Performance at NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group, gave an update on how primary care were now delivering more appointments than before the pandemic.  Primary care were also supporting the vaccination programme.  The workforce were reportedly under a lot of pressure and many practices had staff shortages of their own.


Michael Melvin, Assistant Director of Adult Social Care at City of York Council, reported that he was acutely aware of the hospital pressures, which had also affected adult social care.  Additional resources had been put in place to relieve pressure.  Adult Social Care had been hit with similar pressures due to staff absences and covid care homes closures.  Peppermill Court had been used to discharge patients from the hospital.


Jamaila Hussain, Director of Prevention and Commissioning at City of York Council informed the Board of the work that had been progressed with schools.  Schools were maintaining a low level of absenteeism, with the majority of student absences being attributed to covid.


Alison Semmence talked about the impact of system of pressures on the voluntary sector, which was now seeing more people with more acute problems.  The voluntary sector had similar workforce challenges to everyone else in the system.


Sian Balsom mentioned that the voluntary sector used to be more focused on early intervention and prevention but were now working at the crisis end of the spectrum.  There had been a shift in the type of clients accessing voluntary sector services.  There had also been an impact on people with learning difficulties as services had not been resumed.  The waiting lists for operations and dental treatment had also been impacted negatively by the pandemic.


John Pattison, representative of the Independent Care Group, reported that this was a bad period for care providers, with staff being difficult to recruit.  This made it harder to maintain a good quality of care.  Domiciliary care had also been struggling and had sometimes had had to hand back contracts due to their capacity. Further providers were likely to fail in the close future.


Mabs Hussain reported that the police had been working on getting back to business as usual; however, there had been some issues with staffing due to illness and isolation periods.


The Board noted the update.



Communications Update pdf icon PDF 10 MB


Eddie Coates-Madden, Senior Communications Manager at City of York Council, updated the Board on the significant increase of communications activity which had aligned with rise of the new variant.  Locally, specific work had been progressed under the Director of Public Health around dissuading people from being in the city centre over the New Year’s Eve period.


The messages of the NHS and other partners had been amplified through the council’s various media channels.  Other accurate and timely messaging had also been maintained.  Targeted communications had been developed to address the wards with lowest uptake of the vaccine.  As the number of media enquiries around covid fell so would the regular set of covid communications.  Covid would still be a focus, with Facebook Live Q&A’s continuing to be used to address community hesitancies.  The longer-term strategy would focus around physical fitness and mental health, which would help with the effects of covid. 


The Board noted the update.



Update from Sub Group: Universities and Higher Education establishments pdf icon PDF 396 KB


Professor Charlie Jeffery reported that there had been a surge in student cases across both universities.  Each university had seen its peaks at different times but both had since seen their rates start to fall.  The majority of virus transition had been attributed to households and social settings.  The rates of staff members at both universities remained stable, with business continuing as usual.


Professor Jeffery expressed a cautious response to the end of Plan B, particularly to the surge in cases seen in the student population.  A strong policy on mask usage would be retained until 11 February. In-person teaching would be prioritised and transferred to virtual teaching where possible.


The Board noted the update.



Items for Next Agenda


The Chair confirmed that there were five standing items for all future agendas:

·        Current Situation in York

·        Communications and engagement

·        Updates from Sub-Group/ Task and Finish Groups

·        Vaccinations and Winter Planning

·         System Pressures.


Dates of Future Meetings


The agreed dates of future meetings were as follows:

·        23 March 2022

·        25 May 2022


As the covid outbreak funding would finish on 31 March 2022, the Board agreed to discuss the continuation of these meetings at the meeting in March.  



Any Other Business


The Board had no other business to discuss.



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