Agenda item

Annual Report of the Director of Public Health

To consider the 2022 annual report of the Director of Public Health


Consideration was given to report presented by the Director of Public Health to communicate an overview of the wider impacts of Covid-19 and responses on individuals, communities and the economy. The report included progress on recommendations from the previous annual report from the Director of Public Health, as well as the recommendations from the Health and Wellbeing Board which originally received this report. The data presented in the report was through 31 January 2022, which includes the Omicron wave. The report included case reporting rates, including rates of death, 500,000 vaccine doses delivered, and current position of 85% of population having at least one dose of the vaccine. Data visualisations of the various transmission curves during various waves were included. Significant impacts of underlying conditions made outcomes worse for many Rotherham residents which were described. Negative effects on the population were described in terms of reduction of physical activity. Instances of suicide dropped during the pandemic but have risen in the first quarter of 2022. New rises in alcohol related and substance abuse were associated with the later part of the pandemic. Access to services dropped at the beginning of the pandemic, but recovered quickly with expansion of methods of access. 85% in-person rates of access dropped initially, but this then built up to 65% in person, with online and telephone over and above this. 183 education days were lost to children in Rotherham during the pandemic. Access and support from home varied significantly. Social development was also missed during these gaps. Volunteering decreased whilst opportunities were lost, but 1280 volunteers responded through the Community Hub. Food poverty increased, especially by those needing to isolate. In terms of community safety, more people are in their communities or at home during the daytime, so some areas of crime have not rebounded to previous levels. Domestic violence rates have remained stable. Many businesses issued redundancies. Economies in local highstreets were boosted during the pandemic. Widening of financial gaps and inequalities were described. Disruption to schools and businesses caused by staff being off sick was also noted. Significant mental health impacts were described, emphasising early support and prevention work as well as equitable access to support. Delivery of support must be delivered responsively to meet local needs.


In discussion, members requested assurances that cancer screenings and childhood vaccinations were catching up and requested clarification of impacts of delayed screenings or immunizations. The Director of Public Health has an assurance role to ensure screenings are being delivered and are being caught up. Childhood immunisations is one of the first things to return, with uptake over 90%, although some of the noise around COVID has discouraged some parents from taking up all immunisations. Diabetic eye screenings are also returning. Cancer screening programmes are running, with some reductions of uptake. The full reports will become available to Health Protection Committee in the coming months.


Members requested clarification around GP appointments delivered via an unknown mode. The age of patients attending A&E was also requested. The representative of TRFT related the age-related data of patients.


The first person to receive the vaccine was named in the meeting and commended for being the first to receive the vaccine in Rotherham. Specific instances of children and teachers being asked to come into school whilst testing positive were noted. How are the rules being clarified for schools and families? A letter had gone out in the week and updates with school heads at the beginning of the term around living safely with COVID. Head teachers have been interpreting the rules throughout the pandemic, so if there are specific instances, the Director of Public Health will follow these up with the head teachers. It was also noted that debt in private businesses is not necessarily bad, because that is how businesses scale and expand.


Members requested an update on the recommendations and forthcoming actions. The Director of Public Health identified areas where there are groups who can help respond to the recommendations and how they will all take part in taking up the recommendations, especially those that are already in the place plan, council plans and so forth.


Comparison with other areas around death rates was requested so as to be able to tell if these were high rates or low rates or somewhere in between. The Director of Public Health was asked the most significant lesson from the pandemic. The response was that the partnerships and day to day communication and working together made the difference.  


Members noted their interest in developmental impacts on young people and requested a report on cancer screenings. A drop in terms of cancer diagnosis has meant later presentations through hospital rather than primary care routes. How will work with partners improve awareness and screening processes? The response noted that some screening appointments have been missed because during the pandemic, people did not present with the minor things that people would have brought forward previously to enable early detection. The conversations with NHS England have been ongoing with action plans for returning to full capacity and which patients to prioritise. Some people are not being called back in order to see the higher risk patients. This all adds additional risk so working with the CCG, and ICB as it will be, will be important. The NHS Health Check programme will need to be brought back with a refreshed model to involve primary care.




1.    That the report be noted.

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