Coronavirus (COVID 19): Advisory Subgroup on Public Health Threat Assessment minutes: 29 July 2020

Minutes from the meeting of the Advisory Sub-Group on Public Health Threat Assessment, held on 29 July 2020.

Items and actions

Welcome and apologies 

The chair welcomed members to the third meeting of the group and invited the following new members to introduce themselves: 

Iona Colvin, Andrew Cowie, Lillian Cringle, Joanna MacDonald 

Apologies: Syed Ahmed, Claire Cameron, Graham Foster, Dona Milne, Susan Webb

Minutes of the previous meeting  

The minutes of the previous meeting were agreed.

The chair highlighted the group’s need to provide advice on where flu vaccinations should be administered and to consider matters of capacity.

The group discussed the continued separation of patients with respiratory and those with non-respiratory symptoms between GP practices and Primary Care Triage Hubs.

In was noted that there are other expert groups looking at the symptom definition for Covid-19 and that there will always be a symptom overlap between Covid-19 and Flu.

The group noted that the level of flu and Covid-19 circulation would need to be communicated by Public Health Scotland. 

It was noted that plans are being developed for hubs in relation to NHSScotland winter planning for flu and Covid-19.

Patient transport and Covid-19

The group were given a briefing about the challenges related to transporting patients during the pandemic and the strategic solutions now used which observe social distancing rules.

It was noted that transportation of patients is being considered by Health Boards as part of individual remobilisation plans.

Health care workers and vaccinations

The group received a briefing on the current uptake of the flu vaccination by health care workers, and the Cabinet Secretary has asked in particular for the Group’s views on this issue.

It was noted that if a health care worker currently displays symptoms of Covid-19 they are asked to self-isolate and get tested.  The group discussed the inclusion of the social care workforce when considering its advice on vaccinations and health care workers.

It was noted by the group that there are significant variations between health board healthcare workers’ vaccination uptakes.

The group considered the different methods that can be used to make it as easy as possible for healthcare workers to get vaccinated. 

The group discussed getting medical professional bodies involved in a publicity campaign asking members to get flu vaccinations.

It was noted that any publicity campaign aimed at health care workers would need to start soon. 

The group discussed that data collection in relation to vaccinations for healthcare workers needed a unified approach.

The group acknowledged the quantities of flu vaccinations needed for a widespread vaccination programme for healthcare, and social care, workers; any approach would place restrictions on the roles undertaken by unvaccinated workers and would need to take account of both vaccination accessibility and workplace relations.

It was noted that health boards would have to decide the locations where flu vaccinations would be administered, who would deliver the vaccine and which groups would receive the vaccine. 

It was noted that GP surgeries would not have the capacity for a large scale flu vaccination programmes. 

The Chair said that he would speak to medical representative bodies about support for a flu vaccination programme for healthcare workers.

Group members were asked to provide the Chair with any further comments by the end of the week with a view to having final advice for next week’s meeting.

 AOB and date of next meeting 

The group agreed to move the next meeting from Wednesday 5 August to Tuesday 4 August.

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