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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Virtual Meeting

Contact: Gordon Oliver 


No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 318 KB


The minutes of the meeting held on 10 January 2022 were approved as a true and correct record.


Declarations of interest pdf icon PDF 300 KB


No declarations of interest were made.


Covid-19 situational report pdf icon PDF 301 KB


The Board considered a presentation from Matt Pearce (Agenda Item 4) on the Covid-19 Situational Report. Key points from the presentation included:

·         West Berkshire testing rates were the lowest of the 6 Berkshire unitary authorities.

·         The positivity rate was 17%.

·         There were 840.6 cases per 100,000 population in West Berkshire in the week ending 15 January, which was down on the previous period, but the latest data showed a slight increase.

·         Amongst residents aged 60+, there were 317.3 cases per 100,000 population, which was lower than the other Berkshire authorities.

·         Transmission remained high, with 1,332 infections in the week ending 15 January, with the risk of people experiencing long-Covid symptoms.

·         The sharp rise and sudden decline in cases mirrored that experienced in South Africa.

·         The recent increase was thought to be related to schools returning after the Christmas break.

·         Rates were highest amongst those aged 5-9 years, with 2,555.9 cases per 100,000 population – the Public Health Team was working closely with primary schools.

·         The rates for 5-9 year olds was increasing sharply, while rates for all other age groups were falling or flattening.

·         An increase amongst those aged 10-14 had been seen nationally, but there had only been a slight rise in cases for this age group locally.

·         There were 65 confirmed Covid-19 inpatients in the Royal Berkshire Hospital.

·         Admissions to intensive care were much lower than in previous waves.

·         Many patients were in hospital for other reasons.

·         There was still significant pressure on hospitals which generally experienced additional demand during the winter months.

·         There was a downward trend in case numbers across most wards in West Berkshire.

·         There had been one Covid-related death in West Berkshire the last week, with 289 since the start of the pandemic.

·         There had been a 16% increase in the all-cause mortality rate compared to the five year average, which equated to 355 additional deaths.

·         Caution was urged in interpreting the data, since many of the deaths were not attributable to Covid-19.

·         The latest data showed that the number of deaths was lower than expected. This was thought to be attributable to Covid control measures and the lack of social mixing.

The Chairman suggested that it would be useful to look at national data on the differences between hospitalisation rates for vaccinated and unvaccinated patients. He also asked if there was any data on the ages of Covid patients being admitted to hospital, given the current trend for high case rates amongst children, and what the long-term impacts were on different age groups. He also asked how statistics handled people who had tested positive for Covid, but had then died due to different causes(e.g. traffic accident).

Matt Pearce confirmed that the vast majority of those who were getting severely ill were unvaccinated. While he did not have local data, national data showed an increase in admissions of children with Covid. However, the rates were much lower than for adults. Statistics referred to people who had Covid within the previous 28 days as a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 271.


Vaccination programme update pdf icon PDF 299 KB


The Board considered a presentation from Jo Reeves (Agenda Item 5) relating to the Vaccination Programme. Key points from the presentation were as follows:

·         There was good appointment and walk-in availability for booster doses.

·         16-17 year olds were being invited to have a booster 12 weeks after their second dose.

·         Boosters / fourth doses were being booked for immunosuppressed patients.

·         12-15 year olds were eligible for a second dose 12 weeks after their first. They also had to wait 12 weeks after a positive Covid test. They could either book an appointment via the national booking system or wait for a visit by the School Aged Immunisation Team to their school.

·         A key focus was improving rates of booster take-up in groups that experienced health inequalities in addition to promotion of primary course of vaccination to those with no / one dose.

·         Within West Berkshire 86.5% of residents had received a booster, which compared favourably to the England average of 63.2%.

·         In relation to inequalities:

o   There was a system-wide, targeted Outreach and Engagement Plan running to the end of March, which aimed to mitigate inequalities and ensure that under-served populations had access to the vaccine.

o   Additional funding had been allocated to communications and expenses associated with the Health on the Move Van.

o   In West Berkshire, there was a focus on engagement with social care workers, patients with serious mental illness, carers and areas of deprivation.

·         Health and care employers would not be allowed to deploy anyone who hadn’t had at least two doses in a patient-facing, CQC-regulated role unless they were exempt from 1 April.

·         Staff would need to have their first vaccine by 3 February in order to have received their second dose by 1 April.

·         Take-up by health and care staff was in the high 90s%.

·         Health providers were having one-to-one conversations with relevant staff and the CCG was offering support.

·         The CCG was undertaking an audit of the vaccination status of its own staff, since they were likely to visit health settings.

·         The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) had recommended:

o   Boosters for 12-15 year olds in a clinical risk group or who were a household contact of someone who was immunosuppressed / severely immunosuppressed and who had a third primary dose.

o   First doses for 5-11 year olds, prioritising those who were clinically extremely vulnerable.

·         Government had accepted the recommendations and operational guidance was awaited.

·         It was noted that there was a logistical challenge in getting the correct doses.

The Chairman noted that within the Royal Berkshire Hospital, 97% of all staff had received two doses of the vaccine.

Councillor Steve Masters acknowledged the efforts of the vaccination teams. He asked if any local centres had been affected by the planned day of action by anti-vaccination protesters.

Jo Reeves confirmed that there had been some protesters at the Kennet Centre, but the Centre’s Security Team were on hand to support the clinical staff, and the event had passed off peacefully.

Councillor  ...  view the full minutes text for item 272.


Public Protection Partnership update pdf icon PDF 300 KB


The Board considered a presentation from Sean Murphy (Agenda Item 6) relating to the work of the Public Protection Partnership (PPP). Key points from the presentation were:

·         Reports were being monitored from national and regional centres as well as from settings – most reports from settings were from schools and early years, with a few from workplaces and care settings.

·         The local contact tracing service had dealt with around 350 cases since the last meeting.

·         Following the change to five day isolation periods, the service had moved to locally led tracing in identified postcodes with high case rates, rather than just handling cases that the national system had been unable to contact.

·         The Hub had contacted 998 people with 300 provided with advice / referral and around 50 had been supported with food.

·         Visits had been carried out to premises identified from coincidence data or where outbreaks had been identified, including workplaces and a care setting.

·         Plan B regulations were set to be revoked on 26 January and Plan A would come back into force, with guidance for settings to assist with meeting health and safety obligations.

·         Government was consulting on the need for the remaining controls which allowed for ‘directions’ to be given in relation to premises, events and public spaces.

·         The effects of future changes to isolation rules were being reviewed to understand how they would affect the contact tracing and isolation calls model.

·         Event organisers were still submitting Covid mitigation measures and the PPP were continuing to provide advice as part of wider Safety Advisory Group feedback.

Councillor Lynne Doherty asked about calls to and from the Hub.

Sean Murphy explained that the Hub was actively contacting people who were self-isolating and the feedback was that these calls were welcomed. He confirmed that around a third of these needed some support / advice, including food parcels / referrals to the Food Bank / details of financial support that was available, etc. The Hub also received a small number of inbound calls.

Councillor Doherty asked about the number of inbound calls. Sean Murphy did not have the figure, but undertook to provide this after the meeting.

Councillor Martha Vickers asked where people could go if they were confused about changes to the requirement to wear masks.

Sean Murphy did not think that this was an issue of concern to local people and the Hub tended to take calls in relation to shopping and financial support. He undertook to provide more data on the sorts of calls that were being handled.


Communications update pdf icon PDF 298 KB


The Board considered a presentation from Martin Dunscombe (Agenda Item 7) relating to the Communications Update. Key points from the presentation were as follows:

·         Communications continued to focus on testing, vaccinations and the changes to the rules / guidance.

·         Support had been provided to Solutions4Health and Healthwatch who had been doing outreach work in relation to assisted testing with information provided on social media and printed media.

·         Face-to-face community based communication was becoming increasingly important to reach groups that had traditionally been hard to reach.

·         Work was ongoing with the CCG to promote vaccine availability and encourage people to take up boosters, promoting individual clinics. Again the focus was on people who would be less likely to use the internet / social media.

·         The recently announced changes to Covid rules were also being promoted via the residents’ newsletter, which featured a new infographic to make the changes easy to understand.

Councillor Steve Masters felt that the newsletter struck the right tone in informing people that the rules were changing, but still encouraging them to retain measures to ensure their safety and that of the wider community.


Future meetings and agenda items pdf icon PDF 298 KB


The Chairman indicated that he would consult with Tracy Daszkiewicz and Matt Pearce over the need for another meeting, based on infection rates.

Councillor Martha Vickers highlighted a potential clash of meetings on 7 February.


Any other business pdf icon PDF 299 KB


No other items were raised.