Public Health team and Chris Whitty

Public Health in Focus!

It’s been another eventful few days for Liverpool’s Public Health team – but thankfully it’s been more celebrate than outbreak!

First up, Director of Public Health, Matt Ashton accepted a national award from the ADPH (Association of Directors of Public Health) at their annual conference in London – followed by a visit from Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty.

Matt’s award was in recognition of the impact he’s made in the city since taking up the DPH role in April 2020 – which was a joint appointment with the University of Liverpool, where he is also an Honorary Professor in the Department of Public Health and Policy.

Highlights included leading on the development of Liverpool’s Covid-19 testing pilot (which ultimately provided the framework for the national roll-out), working with Liverpool’s most deprived communities to reduce vaccine inequalities by taking vaccinations to residents, bringing together faith and community leaders to stop a Covid outbreak in its tracks and by working hand in hand with the Government and Culture Liverpool to lead a science led research programme which proved that the events sector could be re-opened safely.

The ADPH also gave a nod to Matt’s work as lead DPH for Food Active and his role on the advisory board of Liverpool FC Foundation, which saw him advise on mental health support following the UEFA final in Paris.

Matt said “I’m incredibly thankful and humbled to receive this award; however, I didn’t do this alone. I have incredible colleagues, not only in Public Health, but across the council, and I’m still in awe of how city partners and communities came together to keep our city safe – so I accept this award on behalf of #TeamLiverpool.”

Professor Chris Whitty and DPH Matt Ashton

The week ended on a real high for Matt and the Public Health team, with Professor Whitty also taking some time out from his busy schedule to hear about “all things” Liverpool and to discuss how lessons learned at a local level could be scaled up and adopted nationally.

The team were able to discuss current challenges and the priority areas identified as part of the city’s recovery – including childhood immunisation, support for mental health and wellbeing, and progress being made on ensuring there is better early diagnosis, treatment and care for chronic illnesses – something that echoed recent comments by Professor Whitty on a “prolonged period” of higher death rates because people had stayed away from the NHS during the pandemic.

Professor Whitty visited Liverpool as part of Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine’s 125th anniversary celebrations, where he spoke on a systematic approach to addressing pandemics and epidemics.

Liverpool Waterfront