Health Matters - By Matt Ashton

BLOG: Lessons from Covid

Liverpool’s Director of Public Health, Matthew Ashton, says the city should be proud of the way it stepped up to deal with the pandemic.

Today’s report from MPs about the Covid-19 pandemic is significant.

It is essential we learn lessons from the response.

Much of the noise is inevitably around the timings of decisions at a national level and the consequences of that.

However, what is also key is that we take the lessons into our preparedness for future pandemics, and the role that public health, prevention, and inequalities play in the resilience of our communities to be able to respond to big challenges like pandemics of the future.

We must remember that Covid-19 is not over yet, and its impact will be felt for many, many years to come. Mental health, delayed care, and disruption to businesses and all our lives, especially our young people, will leave scars that will take a very long time to heal and will need addressing.

One of the main issues for me is that some parts of the country – including the north west and Liverpool particularly – and some specific population groups such as the elderly and those from BAME communities, were disproportionately affected.

So one of the important learnings is not just the operational response, but addressing underlying inequalities and unfairness that underpins much of this, such as improving housing conditions, environmental factors, employment opportunities and education, which all lead to better health and wellbeing. We know for example that it was hard for people to self-isolate if they lived in cramped conditions with communal facilities.

I am enormously proud of our local response – early on we made the decision to be bold, brave and proactive. This included:

• Putting a safety net around care homes by purchasing our own PPE and putting in place other protective measures
• The development of our own local contact tracing scheme
• A comprehensive response to outbreaks such as the one in Princes Park
• The food and welfare support provided to the most vulnerable communities
• Mass asymptomatic testing, the first city in the western world to roll this out
• The role the city played in the events research programme to get large scale events going again

Our NHS, social care, public health and community teams, supported by wider partners, have worked flat out to keep the people of Liverpool as safe as possible, along with an army of community heroes.

With this in mind, in Liverpool, we will be looking back at the pandemic at a special civic thank you event at the Town Hall on Wednesday evening for some of the organisations and individuals who went above and beyond to help with the city’s response to the pandemic. It is our way of saying ‘thank you’ for their support through what has been a very difficult time for us all.

Liverpool Waterfront