Agenda and minutes

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No. Item


Notes of the Previous Board Meeting - 16 December 2021 pdf icon PDF 152 KB

Additional documents:


The notes of the previous Board meeting on 16 December 2021 were endorsed.


Urgent Items from the Health Protection Board

The Director of Public Health or their representative to report.

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The Director of Public Health advised that there were no urgent items for escalation from the Health Protection Board.


Report / Presentation from the Health Protection Board

A Report from the Health Protection Board on current issues, data, age profiles, and matters for information.

Additional documents:


The Board received a Report from the Health Protection Board on current issues, data, age profiles and matters for information.


Matters included in the Report were as follows.


Nationally – the number of vaccinations had increased.

There were 94,432 (39% decrease) daily positive cases; 438 deaths reported within 28 days, a 14% increase. The number of patients in hospital: 1,892, a

decrease of 2.9%.  Testing levels: 1,363,000, a reduction of 22.5% over the past week.


Devon – 6088 cases over the past week (below the national average), and 5 reported deaths within 28 days (below national average).


The picture in Devon recently showed cases decreasing over the past week

(in line with national trend). There had been a decline in all age groups, especially the 20-39 age groups.  There was a slight increase in cases in primary and secondary age group populations, but falling in pre-school and university age groups.


The highest case rates were in Exeter and North Devon areas, and higher rates in urban compared to rural areas. 


Members noted Devon was still seeing outbreaks, mainly in education settings, workplaces and some care homes.  Whilst there were reductions in numbers reporting a positive test, there had been changes in policies in not requiring PCR tests and a reduction in the number of Lateral Flow Tests (LFT) and there may be less people now taking LFTs. An easing of restrictions would require some caution to keep community infection rates low. 


The dashboard pages could be found here.

UK summary: Daily summary | Coronavirus in the UK (

Devon Dashboard: Coronavirus dashboard and data in Devon -

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Devon detailed age breakdown: Cases in Devon | Coronavirus in the UK


Interactive Map: Interactive map of cases | Coronavirus in the UK






Local and National Updates

The Director of Public Health to report, including an update on testing and contact tracing.


The Chair of CCG will provide an update on vaccination data and boosters and general system pressures. To include data on hospital admissions and vaccination status.

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The Director of Public Health reported on testing and contact tracing. He commented that regarding Plan B, there would be a national review of measures due to be announced on 26 January, when restrictions may be lifted around working from home and testing, which may lead to further mixing and therefore increase in transmission and cases. Less people were reporting positive tests, which may be in part due to less people taking LFTs; there had also been an issue in supply of LFTs which reduced people’s ability to regularly test. The council was prioritising testing kits for vulnerable people.


The Chair of the CCG then provided an update on vaccination data and boosters and general system pressures, including data on hospital admissions and vaccination status.


There was a slight increase in the number of patients in hospital, 222 patients in hospital yesterday tested positive.  Data suggested that numbers would peak in the next week but they were currently better than expected.  This was partly due to Omicron being less likely to produce severe symptoms combined with a good uptake of the vaccination booster programme, helping to reduce the number of hospitalisations. Only 2 patients were currently in intensive care being treated for Covid, which was much lower than the first two waves.


Nationally, 6 out of 10 people in intensive care have not had any vaccination, 3 out of 10 not had the booster, and only 1 out of 10 people in hospital having had all 3 vaccinations.


Staff absences – there was a slight drop from 43% down to 39% staff absences over the past week. There was still a significant number of staff not available, but the situation slightly improving.


85% of eligible people in Devon had now had a booster.


By 3 February, all frontline staff will have to have had their first vaccination to be double vaccinated by April in line with Government policy - currently 95% of frontline staff have had 2 doses.  There was 5% of staff not double vaccinated which would impact on staffing capacity.


Members asked questions and the following matters were raised in discussion:


  • The voluntary sector was seeing questions raised through helplines, around people needing Boosters but being asked if there was any data around the 1 in 10 people that get ill despite being fully vaccinated? The clinical details or age profiles of the 1% was unknown. However data did show that the level of protection from receiving a booster increased by 85% - and it was mainly vulnerable individuals most at risk of still becoming ill despite having booster.
  • Regarding queries about oral vaccination treatments, Board Members were advised that there were two treatments becoming available – one was an injection for vulnerable individuals, delivered through the hospital who were notifying individuals, specifically those with weak immune systems and they would receive instructions on being referred. The second was with regard to anti-viral medicines via tablets which would soon be available, again aimed at those individuals with significant  ...  view the full minutes text for item 21.


Schools Update

The Head of Education and Learning or her representative to report on the return to schools, impacts of case numbers on attendance and staff absence.

Additional documents:


The Head of School Place Planning updated the Board on the return to schools, impacts of case numbers on attendance and also staff absences.


He highlighted that there had been a strong return of pupils after the Christmas break, with attendance well above the national average and good testing taking place in secondary schools. New measures around face masks in classrooms had also been implemented.  Attendance had dropped slightly due to an increase in cases, but remained above the national average.


The main challenge faced by schools was around staffing, and their ability to continue delivering education in person due to staff shortages.  Some schools were offering some remote learning for some children.  Risk assessments were ongoing, and schools were working extremely hard to keep children on site.


In Colleges, compliance was good by pupils around face masks and regular testing. Issues were also being experienced around staffing shortages due to positive covid cases or family infection. 


The University of Exeter updated that new guidance was issued following Government legislation just before Christmas. New guidance to staff and strong communication around face coverings, testing and vaccinations.  They were currently delivering exams, with 20% taking place face-to-face and 80% online tests.  Teaching face-to-face continued this term, with 80% of pupils back in residence on campus. 227 cases were reported over the past 10 days, today 24 cases reported.  Some staff absence pressures were being experienced, particularly in ICT and estates staff.



Economy and Business - Impact of Plan B

The Head of Economy and Enterprise to attend and report on the impact on the economy and businesses as a result of Plan B measures.

Additional documents:


The Head of Economy and Enterprise attended and updated the Board on the impact on the economy and businesses as a result of Plan B measures.


Key points highlighted included:


  • The county was experiencing low levels of business confidence across all sectors, due to rising costs and increases in wages and labour shortages. Evidence from relevant partners (some data predated Plan B), showed that 30% of businesses were struggling financially as the public were not spending due to Omicron. The South West region reported the least optimistic prospects for 2022; however, the manufacturing sector had positive signs of progress around Green Technology.
  • Realtime wages were in decline with the increase in cost of living
  • There were ongoing labour market shortages – could find economic cohort reaching saturation in June.
  • Impact on cash flow – the next 6-12 months would be vital for businesses.
  • Retail and hospitality sector were experiencing the biggest challenges, around Plan B restrictions and it was expected there would be some business failures. South West Tourism Alliance stated that 52% of businesses say they had seen a 50% decline in turnover, and 75% stated a decline of over 20%.  30% of businesses saw cancellation rates above 50% in December, due to a lack of consumer confidence. Regarding cash reserves 25% said they had no cash reserves remaining.
  • Labour shortages were the most acute in health and care sectors.


Key drivers behind business confidence – an unprecedented inflation rate of 5.8%, the Chamber of Commerce was sighting inflation pressures as a significant factor for businesses requiring more support. National insurance increases also rising, with one manufacturer reporting a £28m increase in its own costs.


Other relief measures would also be coming to an end in April, resulting in less support for businesses.


The FSB reported that some businesses had reduced their opening hours to cope with staff shortages and increasing costs.   The Exeter Chamber of Commerce were lobbying for further support from government, with 40% of its members impacted from rising cost pressures. 


Devon’s Growth Hub had also seen a rapid increase in enquiries around finance – but also an increase in the number of queries around new business start-ups, which was positive.


Labour market – there were approx. 30,000 vacancies across Devon, and Universal Claimants of 12,500.


Youth unemployment was down everywhere except Exeter. 


Households and wage inflation – the average wage in Devon was rising more than national rates. However, that included some local people securing jobs in London and some people from the South East with jobs moving to Devon, which obscured the figures.  Devon was also seeing more early retirements and young people staying in education longer.  The cost of living squeeze was being seen locally and a recent report predicted that real wages had been falling since May 2021, with further increases in taxes and energy bills impacting households.


Stagecoach and South West Rail were also seeing disruption due to absenteeism and had reduced timetables as a result.



Public Questions / Other Questions for the Board

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There were no additional questions for the Board.



Key Messages to be Communicated pdf icon PDF 115 KB

The Board and Head of Communications and Media to consider any key messages to be communicated.

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The Board and Head of Communications and Media considered the key messages coming from the meeting.


“Things are looking up, but we can’t be complacent and are still not out of the woods”


Everyone should continue to use their common sense to help protect family and friends. Get your booster vaccination, test regularly, and follow national rules on isolating if positive. 


A full script was attached to the minutes for circulation by Board Members.


Date of Next Meeting

Scheduled for 15 February 2022 @ 10.30am

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Members noted the date of the next meeting as 15 February 2022 @ 10.30am