As we move into the government's next phase in tackling COVID-19, it is really important we have a local plan that sets out how we will respond to and manage any potential outbreaks. That is where local outbreak control plans come in. Plans will look at how we identify and contain any potential outbreaks and what this might mean for residents, businesses, communities and visitors.
Our plan sets out how we will work together to prevent potential outbreaks, and where this is not possible, minimise the spread of COVID-19 infection across the BCP Council area.
Working in partnership is crucial to help prevent the spread of the virus and swiftly respond to local outbreaks.
While the response to outbreaks will be led by the local director of public health, success will require a co-ordinated partnership response. This will involve numerous agencies working together.
Managing outbreaks in workplaces, specific settings such as schools and care homes and within the community is not new and is a core function of public health and environmental health.
It is therefore important that the creation of any new arrangements to manage local COVID-19 outbreaks build on our existing plans.
This evolving local outbreak management plan will cover COVID-19 specific issues and how, working with communities and partners, we will respond to them.
Key objectives in our plan include:
- using NHS Test and Trace information to support people to self-isolate quickly
- supporting higher risk settings if they have an outbreak
- providing local data and surveillance so we can take quick action to control the spread of the virus
- providing assurance and information to our communities about how we are preventing outbreaks, working with them on any local actions that may be needed
- protecting our health and care system and promoting the recovery of our local economy.
The South West Regional Directors of Public Health have agreed to the following working principles:
We will work together as a public health system, building on and making use of the existing close working relationships we have between the local authority public health teams and Public Health England (PHE). We will try to ensure we make the best use of the capacity and capability of the regional public health workforce.
While recognising local sovereignty, we will use a common language to describe the local governance arrangements:
- COVID-19 Health Protection Board
- Local Outbreak Management Plans
- Local Outbreak Engagement Board
We will work to an agreed common set of quality standards and approaches in the management of local outbreaks making use of and building upon already agreed approaches such as those defined within the Core Health Protection Functions MoU.
We will take a continuous learning approach to the planning and response to COVID-19 outbreaks, sharing and learning from one another to ensure we provide the most effective response we can.
We will ensure that there is an integrated data and surveillance system established, which alongside a strong evidence-base, will enable us to respond effectively to outbreaks. It is Proposed that a COVID-19 Regional Data and Intelligence Framework is developed which will enable directors of public health (DsPH) to have access to the necessary information to lead the COVID-19 Health Protection Board.
We will commit to openness and transparency, communicating the most up-to-date science, evidence and data to colleagues, wider partners and the public.
We will ensure that within our planning and response to COVID-19 we will take the necessary actions to mitigate and reduce the impact of COVID-19 on those most vulnerable, including black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.
We recognise that DsPH have a system leadership role in chairing the COVID-19 Local Health Protection Board. We commit to engaging with key partners, including all levels of government (upper, lower-tier local authorities, towns and parishes and wider partners and communities), key stakeholders including the community and voluntary sector to ensure a whole system approach.
We accept that we are currently working in a fast-changing, complex environment. DsPH are having to respond to changing evidence, national guidance, demands and expectations. We will commit to working proactively and always to public health first principles.
We will make sure that our plan includes a strong focus on prevention and early intervention to ensure the most important settings, for example, care homes and schools, as well as high-risk locations and communities, identify and prioritise preventative measures to reduce the risk of outbreaks.
Local outbreak control plans will be overseen by our Health and Wellbeing Board. The board has representatives from all local public sector agencies and the voluntary and community sector.
The Health and Wellbeing Board is chaired by BCP Council Leader, Cllr Drew Mellor. The responsibilities of the board include:
- political oversight of the local delivery of plan and response
- communicating and engaging with residents and communities
We will also have a Dorset Health Protection Board chaired by the Director of Public Health, Sam Crowe.
Membership will include:
- Public Health England
- the Clinical Commissioning Group
- the police
- local authorities (environmental health officers/housing)
- the fire and rescue service
- public protection
- social care
- schools and colleges
- higher education
- economy, enterprise and skills
- business and tourism
- military liaison
We will also be supported by the Dorset Local Resilience Forum providing a multi-agency response and co-ordinating any work needed should a large-scale outbreak occur.