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2021 Public Health Annual Report

Embracing optimism - Living with COVID-19

Annual Report of the Director of Public Health for Wirral (2020-2021)

Each year, the Director of Public Health produces an annual report which outlines the health of their local community.

The public health annual report (PHAR) also identifies key health issues and reports on progress so that the local needs of the population can be better served.

This years report focuses on how we have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic alongside the existence of persistent health inequalities, and their impacts, upon on our residents across the borough.

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When everyone is healthy, everyone benefits. We have made great progress to support people to live healthier lives in Wirral. However, some communities continue to experience better health than others.

  • The pandemic has made these differences worse, and the heaviest impacts have fallen on the lives of people already experiencing health, economic and social inequalities.

  • These differences are the most significant health challenge in Wirral. They impact on the quality of people’s lives; the way residents use services and how individuals and the economy prosper.

  • Differences in health occur because of the social, economic, and environmental conditions in which people live. Protective factors include having good quality employment, a safe and warm home, and the best start in life. Urgent action to tackle longstanding health inequalities in Wirral is now required. The pandemic has however shown us what we can achieve when we all work together and the speed at which we can make change happen.

  • Crucially we are presented with the opportunity to reduce the gap in health between our communities and the rest of England or face the possibility that failure to act together and at pace increases poor health in Wirral. Tackling health inequalities is good for everyone and is everyone’s business. This is a once in a generation opportunity to do things differently.

Recommendation 1: Prioritise economic regeneration and a strong local economy

  • Economic development plans are reviewed to ensure that they respond to the impact of the pandemic on residents and communities.

  • Economic Regeneration and Development Committee, working with the Health and Wellbeing Board, should consider the development of an Economic Inequalities Strategy for Wirral.

  • Employment support services and skills development programmes are available, accessible and sustainable to ensure income maximisation and support those most susceptible to job loss and job insecurity.

  • Partners embed a ‘Health in All’ Policies approach to regeneration planning. We can use this approach to ensure that the wide breadth of health impacts of the pandemic is part of routine decision making and to reduce health inequalities

Recommendation 2: Safeguard a healthy standard of living for all

  • Wirral’s Housing Strategy is reviewed to reflect the changing needs of residents and to address the challenges that have emerged during the pandemic.

  • There is an integrated information and advice offer to enable people to access support when they need it.

  • We build on the progress made during the pandemic to support people who are homeless.

  • We define and streamline fuel poverty support pathways with partners across Wirral learning from the COVID-19 response.

  • Relevant partners use Health Impact Assessment in spatial planning to identify risks to good health and ways to mitigate them.

Recommendation 3: Increase support for children, young people and families

  • The impacts of the pandemic on our young people are examined to ensure that children and families have the support they need, to predict future areas requiring action and inform

    the offer for early years’ support from the Council and other partners.

  • Work continues to develop the early help and intervention model underpinned by a prevention framework.

  • Work with families, early years, schools, further and higher education sectors continues to ensure all children and young people fulfil their potential through a ‘cradle to career’ approach.

  • Ensure that services are maximising opportunities to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on children, young people and families with a focus on physical and mental health.

  • Review existing support and services for our most vulnerable children, young people and families to ensure they are resilient, accessible and driving progress.

Recommendation 4: Strengthen action to address differences in health outcomes and prevention

  • Local health and care partners focus on tackling inequalities in healthcare provision - this is their direct responsibility and must be the prime

    focus of their action.

  • Local NHS partners ensure they can access high-quality data to measure performance on reducing health inequalities across services. This

    includes being able to breakdown outcome and performance data by deprivation and ethnicity

  • NHS partners use their role as local anchor institutions and the choices they make as an employer and a purchaser to reduce inequalities.

  • Preventative programmes and proactive health management for groups at greatest risk of poor health outcomes are accelerated across key service areas as outlined within the NHS Long Term Plan.

  • The developing integrated care system and local providers have a named executive boardlevel lead for tackling health inequalities and access training made available by local and national partners.

  • Local NHS partners engage with and play a supportive role in multi-agency action to improve the social, economic and environmental conditions in which people live.

  • Health and care partners focus on good infection prevention control to ensure avoidable infections are prevented.

Recommendation 4: Residents and partners continue to work together

  • All partners should continue to build on the strong partnership work developed through our COVID-19 response by implementing the action emerging from the Health and Wellbeing Board Community and Voluntary Sector work.

  • All partners fully engage local people to co-design services and initiatives to enable residents to recover and improve their health and wellbeing. We need to prioritise our more vulnerable residents who have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and use tailored communication methods.

  • We undertake a resident listening exercise to learn from the experience of the pandemic to understand local people’s experiences and aspirations for the future. This work should be a blueprint for developing a sustainable model for the use of insights gathered from local people.