Agenda item

Health Protection Annual Assurance


The Board considered a report and presentation of the Director of Public Health that provided updates on the health protection assurance arrangements in County Durham, implementation of the health protection action plan and the indirect effects of the COVID-19 pandemic that has impacted on relevant work programmes (for copy of report and presentation see file of minutes).


Chris Alan, Public Health Consultant gave a presentation and provided an update on the following activity:


·        Key achievements;

·        Screening;

·        Immunisations;

·        Outbreaks and communicable diseases;

·        Strategic regulation interventions;

·        Preparedness and response to incidents and emergencies;


It was noted that additional funding had been secured to build capacity to address additional needs arising from the pandemic and the EU exit. The team will be involved in developing a multi partner place based approach to tackle issues and build cohesion within communities.


Councillor Gunn raised concerns in relation to the abolition of Public Health England and the creation of the new National Institute for Health Protection. She asked about the potential impact of the changes on health protection across the County. The Director of Public Health advised that the Regional Director of Public Health England had been invited to attend the next Health and Wellbeing Board meeting to provide an update on the position. The Chair wrote to the Secretary of State for Health on behalf of the Board seeking assurance of what the National Institute of Health Protection would consist of and what it would mean locally, however no response had been receive as of yet. She added that the Association of Directors of Public Health were also concerned and would continue to seek assurances to preserve the close relationships and expertise in the North East.


In response to a query regarding screening programmes, the Public Health Consultant explained that regular assurance reports are received from NHS England regarding improvements on screening programmes. He advised that the breast screening programme will have recovered by the end of the year and NHS England plan to have workshops on inequalities with regards to cancer screening programmes which will include stakeholders from the Local Authority and CCG’s.


The Chair commented on the impact that lockdown has had on air quality during the past year. It was noted that data from Environment Protection and Transport showed that nitrogen dioxide in the air had reduced in the North East by 27% since 23 March 2020 and a similar level of reduction had been reported in Durham.



(i)    That the content of the report be noted.

(ii)    That performance for all childhood immunisation programmes in County Durham exceeds both standards and national averages be noted;

(iii)   That broad assurance that effective processes are in place for each of the key strands of health protection activity be noted;

(iv)   That further assurance in relation to flu and COVID-19 vaccination be supported;

(v)   That assurance on the transfer of Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Public Health England (PHE) functions including health protection and screening and immunisation programmes and emergency response be supported;

(vi)     That further identification and response to emerging health protection priorities be supported.

Supporting documents: