Liverpool City Council’s Health and Wellbeing Board has praised Public Health’s ‘heroic’ efforts in the Covid-19 pandemic as the city transitions from response mode to recovery.

Cllr Tony Reeves, Chief Executive of Liverpool City Council, spoke of the resilience of Liverpool’s health teams throughout the pandemic.

He said: “The last couple of years have been like no other period in Public Health’s career.

“I just want to put on record the unbelievable amount of work that has been done behind the scenes that has enabled the economy to open up because of public health advice.

“There has been heroic leadership right across the city,” he added.

A key feature of the agenda was Liverpool’s Public Health Annual Report 2021.

The report detailed the complexities of the pandemic for the region while showing some signs of promise for 2022 after what has been an unpredictable and challenging few years.

Councillors praised the vaccine roll out
Councillors praised the vaccine roll out and the response from health practitioners in the pandemic. / Photo by Unsplash

Vaccine uptake and Covid response

The Board praised the rapid roll out of Covid-19 vaccinations for the most vulnerable.

The report notes 264 residents, carers and pregnant woman benefitted from the Council’s ‘Taxi to the Vaxi’ scheme between March and December 2021.

Meanwhile, the Vaccination Bus delivered 9,927 1st, 2nd and booster vaccine doses between April and November 2021.

The report claims out of 1,364 patients surveyed, 16% had said they would not have been vaccinated if the bus had not been there.

Councillors were pleased with the Test and Trace response and the city’s Smart Pilot scheme, too.

The Smart Pilot scheme was the first in the world to conduct an asymptomatic testing study and has put Liverpool on the map as a world leader in future pandemics as a result.

Paddington Village building

Cllr Reeves was also keen to discuss The Spine building at Paddington Village.

The building has been deemed the healthiest building in the world, which Cllr Reeves said is due to the hundreds of built-in health design features.

Cllr Reeves said the quality of air conditioning in the building has been proven to improve cognitive performance by 7%.

There are only four buildings in the world that have ever reached platinum rating, but The Spine boasts the highest rating of them all.

He also said another building, The Hemisphere, is in its planning stages to join The Spine in the foreseeable future.

The Hemisphere will be the first carbon neutral building in the city.

Liverpool City Council met to discuss health
Councillors met in the Liverpool Town Hall to discuss the Covid-19 pandemic and the future of health in the region. / Creative Commons Licence

Health inequalities

However, there will be a huge focus on reducing health inequalities across Liverpool in 2022 which councillors claim became entrenched in the pandemic.

The Public Health Report noted Covid presented a ‘perfect storm‘ in exacerbating health inequalities across the city and that race, gender and geography played a part in increasing the risk of illness.

Cllr Sarah Thwaites and Healthwatch Liverpool Manager highlighted how residents struggled to access health services in the pandemic and are now suffering the impact of missing vital care.

She said: “It has not fallen equally on all of us”.

Moving forward, councillors said there will be a focus on housing, mental health and suicide prevention amongst other measures outlined in the report such as children and young people, unemployment and income.

Liverpool Public Health will also continue to work towards achieving Marmot Community Status.

Housing

But Cllr Richard Kemp highlighted the issue of substandard housing being rented out by private landlords.

He expressed concern for asylum seekers and refugees in inadequate accommodation.

Cllr Kemp said: “There are some areas in our city which are dominated by people who have fled terror and who we are now housing in absolute squalor.

“These aren’t our citizens, but they are our people.

“Will we be looking after those asylum seekers and refugees every bit as much as our own citizens?” he asked.

Cllr Gavin Flatt confirmed that the plan is inclusive to all.

Liverpool public health in 2022

2020 saw an increase in deaths by suicide in Liverpool, feared to be a consequence of lockdown anxieties, social isolation, the impact of Covid-19 and financial insecurity.

To raise awareness to suicide prevention, Public Health launched its Reach Out Liverpool scheme on 6 December 2021.

Liverpool Public Health has also invested over £5 million into several work programmes to reduce suicide risks and self-harm.

Amongst these measures is the plan to Build Back Fairer in Liverpool with an emphasis on tackling wider social, economic and environmental issues within the city.

These measures were met with praise by councillors who felt optimistic about the future of public health in Liverpool post-Covid and beyond.

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