Agenda and minutes

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Contact: Karen Strahan / Stephanie Lewis  Email: / Email:

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No. Item


Notes of the Previous Board Meeting pdf icon PDF 162 KB

To receive the notes of the previous meeting on 8 October 2020.

Additional documents:


The notes of the previous Board meeting on 8 October 2020 were agreed as a correct record.


Urgent Items from the Health Protection Board

The Director of Public Health or their representative to report.

Additional documents:


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, trends, age profiling and matters for information.

Additional documents:


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


Matters included in the Report were as follows.


  • The latest data from the Devon COVID dashboard -, the headline figures showed 836 COVID-19 cases in Devon with 4 deaths in the last week. There were also 90 small areas with a count of 3 cases or more in last 7 days.
  • The graphs also showed Devon in comparison to other upper tier LA’s;
  • 836 cases meant that there were 104.2 cases per 100,000 population which was still below the England average.
  • Whilst the cases were rising but generally flat, the spike previously recorded was attributable to the University outbreak, which was now well under control.
  • The presentation showed the national maps, with many more areas moving into the 100+ cases per 100,000 population category.
  • For the South West generally, the figures in Somerset and Dorset were similar to those in Devon, although tended to increase towards Bristol
  • There was also a break down by District level as well as the available data at the neighbourhood level; and
  • A new addition to the dashboard was the age profile with the working age range population currently having the highest rates of infection.


Members asked questions in relation to the ONS household survey data and whether it was possible to aggregate with current data sets and also any lessons learned for the FE college sector, noting that fast reactions and support to students’ was crucial and staff had worked exceptionally hard in this regard.


Members noted the data was available at


NHS Pressures pdf icon PDF 458 KB

Chair of Devon Clinical Commissioning Group to present the issues and key messages.

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The Chair of Devon Clinical Commissioning Group presented the issues and key messages in relation to the pressures within the NHS.


Of note was the significant pressure in the South West and the potential to run out of beds. This was in the main due to the geography of the area, an increased elderly population and lower numbers of beds generally, making the area more vulnerable, even with lower numbers of the virus. He also noted that hospitals were having to close some bays and wards as patients were arriving with negative test results, before subsequently screening positive after 5 days (due to the incubation period when first arriving).  This had implications for the beds and people around them on the ward in being able to discharge people and use the beds for other patients.


The Chair of the Clinical Commissioning Group highlighted pertinent data trends relating to routine procedures and comparing the numbers in the first peak alongside the trends now, with many more referrals currently and at the same level as September and October 2019. This was an increase in demand when compared to the first lockdown when a significant number of people were not seeing their GP for consultations and referrals.


The presentation also outlined the data in relation to cancer referrals, urgent emergency care recovery and A & E. It was highlighted that previously a number of beds had managed to be released to create additional capacity but this was not currently the case, resulting in less flexibility to deal with changing demand and COVID patients.


The number of COVID patients in hospital was now greater than those numbers seen in the first peak.


The Board noted there was generally a 4 week delay before a reduction in cases / demand would be seen following any national action, therefore the easing impact of the current lockdown was not expected until the end of November or early December  and it was anticipated that hospital admissions would continue to rise over the next two and half weeks. 


Members of the Board made comments in relation to the importance of strong messaging and social distancing and ensuring people continued to take action to protect the sector.


Mr Simon Chant (Consultant in Public Health) then shared some data in terms of transport and mobility trends during Covid.


This highlighted local main road traffic being reduced by some 30% / 40% at weekends, whilst compared to 70/80% at the 1st lockdown. The national movements by transport modes for motorised vehicles and public transport had dropped nationally whilst Google mobility data highlighted the step changes in retail, public transport, workplaces and the supermarkets.


An analysis of local road usage (using 10 main routes in Devon) showed comparisons with the same day in 2019.


AGREED that a copy of the presentations be appended to the minutes.


National Picture and update on current Lockdown

The Director of Public Health to update on national context and guidance, to include an update from the Chief Executive on the national Contain Capacity Planning Programme.

Additional documents:


The Chief Executive of Devon County Council provided an update on current national issues which included;


·         The development of the vaccine which was likely to be available in a few weeks. Whilst it was an excellent step forward, it would not solve all the presented issues any time soon and efforts had to be maintained to contain the spread of the virus;

·         test and trace and how capacity might be increased on a local level. It was likely that a new framework would be received for local areas and the increased capacity for testing;

·         the important message of ensuring as many people as possible self-isolated when they needed to;

·         the potential for more mass testing, as seen and piloted in Liverpool;

·         lateral flow testing and the potential to target certain sectors of the population, where action could have the most impact, for example care homes, schools and vulnerable groups; and

·         the position on the 2nd December (after lockdown), which was currently unknown, but there was potential for more local interventions.


Communications and Engagement

To consider the current communications activities in relation to:


·     Young People and social media campaign – an update from the Head of Communications and Media

·     People of Working Age – an update from the Director of Public Health

·     Clinically Extremely Vulnerable, to include the work of District Councils, Town and Parish Councils and the Voluntary and Community Sector – update from the Head of Communities.


Members of the Board to contribute as appropriate to each discussion area.

Additional documents:


Members of the Board considered the current communications activities in relation to:


Young People and social media campaign with an update from the Head of Communications and Media. This highlighted many of the key messages including the importance of taking action for loved ones ‘do it for your family’.


Many of the messages had been targeting schools, colleges and university in relation to the return to education and the key message had been that we were doing well but needed to continue. There was a focus on using major events as opportunities, such as Halloween and bonfire night with simple and relevant messages and specific social media with the use of recognised images and using young peoples’ voice where possible.


The social media targeting had started in September aimed at 16 to 24 years old with adverts on Facebook and Instagram with a core message ‘you can help control’ and ‘you can protect your mates’. There was also the use of social media influencers such as models, footballers and reality TV stars.


Moving forward the next campaign would focus on those of working age.


The Director of Public Health echoed that this was an area of concern with cases rising in this age bracket. Data showed that the primary spread had been through socialisation rather than COVID safe environments hence the need for more targeted communications in this area.


The Head of Communities updated the Board on the work to support the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable, including the work of District Councils, Town and Parish Councils and the Voluntary and Community Sector.


He updated the Board on the current Government guidance for the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable and the ongoing work to implement the support mechanisms required for this group. In Devon there were 35,000 people across the County and actions included support around food and medicine issues, linking with towns and parish councils regarding community support plans and the operational update in terms of writing to the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable to clarify local contact arrangements.


Early indications were in the region of 150 enquires seeking advice on supermarket slots, how to access advice and general wellbeing.


The work moving forward was the re-launch of the funding for voluntary and community sector groups, work on a wellbeing offer and arrangements for the wider population post lock down with wider messaging and ensuring a preparedness for winter.


Members of the Board contributed to each discussion area as appropriate.


Enforcement - Current Work and Plans

A representative from Devon and Cornwall Police to update on enforcement practices and future planning.

Additional documents:


A representative from Devon and Cornwall Police updated the Board on current enforcement practices and any future planning in this regard.


Points of note included that the Police continued to work at a strategic and tactical level to allow a co-ordinated response to circumstances and situations.


In terms of local policing, there had been engagement with local teams to ensure the public understood the legislation and it was noted there had been very good compliance in Devon.


There had been situations where enforcement action had been required and the data showed there had been 340 reports of COVID breaches. 76 tickets had been issued, the majority having been issued in Exeter, with smaller numbers in Torridge, West Devon and Torbay.


The most common issue was the breach of the rule of 6.


The Board noted that the Police were trying to be proactive as well as reactive in terms of effective policing.


The Police would respond direct to Councillor Croad in relation to enforcement in the Ivybridge area.


Hate Crime and Community Tension pdf icon PDF 264 KB

A Report from the the Voluntary Community and Social Enterprise representative on Hate Crime and Community Tension during the pandemic, (attached).

Additional documents:


The Board had received a Report from the Voluntary Community and Social Enterprise representative on Hate Crime and Community Tension during the pandemic, which had been circulated with the agenda.


At its October meeting, members of Devon County Council’s Equality Reference Group had reported increases in community tensions and calls to helplines since lockdown restrictions eased. Alongside requesting police data on hate crimes, members of the group were invited to complete a survey and the results were presented in the Report.


Responses were received from the Intercom Trust, Plymouth and Devon Racial Equality Council, Living Options Devon, Devon Faith and Belief Forum. The Report also provided data on the recorded hate crime in Devon.


Members of the Board commented that there was potential for a rise in reported and non-reported cases of 'othering' and hate crime as the economy contracted and that the University would like to play a more enhanced role and were partnering with a number of organisations including the RDE and North Devon NHS.


Public/Members Questions for the Board

Additional documents:


Other questions raised for the Board included;


·         what role do the police have in a public health emergency;

·         how exactly did Devon and Cornwall Police lead the local response to the pandemic; and

·         what activities have Devon and Cornwall Police taken in support of the local response.


The Police responded with an explanation of the two key groups, being the strategic coordinating group and tactical coordinating group (which took a steer from the strategic) and how they worked in providing a response, often in a multiagency capacity. He also referred to the national role of Deputy Chief Constable Paul Netherton who had been a national police lead for contingency planning and resilience and was able to bring this expertise back to the Force. They also outlined the activities in support of the local response, such as work with the community through neighbourhood teams, encouraging compliance, providing safety advice and overall strong and consistent messages so responses were joined up with other police forces and other agencies.


Key Messages to be Communicated from the Meeting

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.


These included;


·         Act now, take extra care and follow all national lockdown guidelines;

·         The cases continue to rise in Devon across all age groups and all areas, particularly working age population;

·         The latest national lockdown was yet to have impact on numbers;

·         concerns about increase in older age groups, cases in Care Homes and the impact on vulnerable and elderly;

·         few deaths reported to date but this was expected to rise as more people were requiring hospital treatment, putting local hospitals under pressure;

·         local response of people and businesses continued to be good;

·         University outbreak handled well and related numbers in Exeter had fallen; and

·         The local situation continued to be monitored based on good local data and local intelligence.


Date of Next Meeting

Scheduled for 10 December 2020 @ 11.00am

Additional documents:


Members noted the date of the next meeting as 10 December 2020 @ 11.00am


The Leader of Devon County Council also paid tribute to Virginia Pearson who was retiring from the Council shortly. On behalf of Team Devon, he recorded his thanks for her exceptional leadership and that she would be very much missed.


This was echoed by all Board Members who wholeheartedly endorsed the Leaders words.