Since March 2020 the Champs Public Health Collaborative has been supporting the health and care system in responding to the coronavirus pandemic, to ensure that the local community is equipped with the information and support that they require. During this time the Collaborative has helped to establish an integrated Contact Tracing Hub for Complex Settings in Cheshire & Merseyside, delivered a number of campaigns to support the community with their mental health and continued to deliver key public health programmes still affecting the public despite the pandemic, such as CVD prevention.
Cheshire & Merseyside Contact Tracing Hub
Cheshire and Merseyside Directors of Public Health have upscaled their local response to ensure a safe and effective system by creating a COVID-19 Test and Trace Hub with Public Health England (PHE). The Hub is an emergency response and will scale up existing arrangements at pace with PHE. The focus is on complex settings and the Hub work alongside the national Test and Trace system. The Hub does not replace local work but bolsters local resilience which has been particularly important during the winter period and during the second wave.
Cheshire & Merseyside Vaccination Programme
The vaccination programme in Cheshire and Merseyside is led by the Health and Care Partnership. There are two lead Directors of Public Health for Vaccinations within Champs Public Health Collaborative, Matt Ashton and Thara Raj. They attend twice weekly NHSE Vaccine Gold Cell briefing meetings to stay abreast of the latest vaccine developments and inform the rest of the C&M DsPH at their weekly meetings.
Further information about vaccination roll out in C&M can be found at the C&M Health and Care Partnership’s website.
COVID-19 Testing in Cheshire & Merseyside
In November 2020 Liverpool City Council became the first area in the country to introduce mass COVID-19 testing for people without symptoms. The pilot of this mass testing in Liverpool helped to inform new testing technologies and approaches across the country. Following roll out in Liverpool, the mass testing was made available across the Liverpool City Region and later Cheshire & Warrington.
Testing continues across C&M, with a focus on testing in workplaces. Since schools returned in March 2021, testing has been delivered within high schools and lateral flow tests were made available for regular use by parents of primary school aged children. Lateral flow tests are now available to be picked up from testing centres and used by anyone wishing to take regular tests.
A training programme has been instigated to ensure that the workforce in C&M have the appropriate knowledge and skills with regards to contact tracing for Covid-19. Training is available for those in specific contact tracing roles and for those who require an understanding of contract tracing in order to inform the wider community.
Cheshire and Merseyside Local Authority Outbreak Management Plans
Local plans were published on July 1st 2020 aiming to prevent and control the spread of coronavirus to protect the health of individuals and communities. Each local authority outlined how they would provide public health advice and guidance for high risk settings, support those who are clinically vulnerable to self isolate, encourage those with symptoms to self isolate and get tested and work with settings to protect communities if outbreaks occur.
Kind to your mind campaign
Kind to Your Mind is a campaign from the local councils and the NHS in Cheshire and Merseyside, funded through the national NHSEI suicide prevention programme resource. It was created to help members of the public and key workers who may need support with their mental wellbeing during the Coronavirus pandemic. This support includes resources from the national Every Mind Matters campaign, access to free online wellbeing tools (provided by the Cheshire and Merseyside Health and Care Partnership) and information relating to local mental health crisis phone lines. The campaign is jointly led by the Cheshire and Merseyside Health and Care Partnership and Champs Public Health Collaborative and has been running from April 2020. A number of marketing and communications channels were used to promote the campaign, including radio partnerships, a campaign website www.kindtoyourmind.org social media, PR and a dedicated podcast series.
Spread the facts campaign
The Directors of Public Health in Cheshire and Merseyside have commissioned a behaviour change campaign targeted at 20-to-30-year olds in the area to encourage increased compliance of COVID-19 rules and guidance. The campaign – ‘Spread the Facts’ – launched on 1st December 2020 and features young health and care professionals from the local area sharing real facts about COVID-19 and the impact it can have on their lives and the lives of their peers.
The campaign was tested rigorously with the target audience to ensure that it meets the aim of changing behaviour and increasing compliance. The campaign website is www.spreadthefacts.co.uk
To support cardiovascular disease prevention during COVID-19, C&M has a dedicated website (www.happy-hearts.co.uk) for use by patients, carers and health professionals. It includes a wide range of resources, information and signposting to support health and wellbeing, self-care for the ‘ABC’ high risk conditions (atrial fibrillation, high blood pressure, cholesterol), remote care and awareness-raising of key messages. A related Happy Hearts communications toolkit with template news story and a range of digital assets is also available on request from firstname.lastname@example.org to support local promotion.
Cheshire and Merseyside Outbreak Management Framework
This resource was developed collaboratively to support local authorities in Cheshire and Merseyside to align their approach to Outbreak Management. As COVID-19 does not respect local authority boundaries, the response had to be joined up both throughout the sub-region in order to be effective. The resource demonstrates how Cheshire & Merseyside strengthened an approach to Outbreak Management and prevention by pooling knowledge, resources, skills and expertise to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission and ultimately save lives. The Framework was created in partnership with Public Health England and links to the Cheshire and Merseyside Testing and Swabbing Strategy.