Barnsley Council’s new Outbreak Control Plan and Board

Barnsley Council has produced and published an Outbreak Control Plan (OCP) outlining its approach to prevent, detect, respond to, and reduce the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) among the borough’s population. 

The government has asked councils across the country to develop a local OCP by the end of June 2020, as an important next step of the national Test and Trace programme. 

Barnsley’s OCP deals with several issues at a borough level and includes a section specifically dealing with preventing outbreaks. 

The council, along with Public Health England (PHE), will work alongside multiple organisations and partnerships across the borough, to support a range of settings including schools, care homes, workplaces, and communities, both proactively and reactively as part of its overall Coronavirus (COVID-19) response. 

The Barnsley OCP builds on existing health protection plans to identify and suppress possible outbreaks before they gain momentum and puts in place measures which use well-established control methods and protect the public’s health.   

 The Barnsley OCP focuses on seven key themes:

  1. Care homes and schools
  2. Planning for other outbreaks in high risk places, locations and communities
  3. Local testing capacity
  4. Contact tracing in complex settings
  5. Integrating national and local data and scenario planning
  6. Supporting vulnerable local people to get help to self-isolate
  7. Establishing local boards 

Barnsley’s plan contains an additional theme on local training, ensuring that the council workforce aligned to supporting the delivery of the local OCP are trained and supported in this role. 

Director for Public Health, Julia Burrows, said:

“The Government has announced some major changes that will take place from 4 July; however, we must all remember that the threat of Coronavirus (COVID-19) is still very real, and we all need to keep playing our part to control the spread of the virus.

Any lifting of lockdown measures carries risk; it must be planned and managed with robust measures in place so that we can react quickly.

We have developed the outbreak control plan to help us tackle local outbreaks quickly and effectively. The plan is a necessary measure to ensure that communities and settings can respond should we have new connected cases.”

Alongside the OCP, an important part of the next step stage of the response phase to the pandemic is to establish a Barnsley Outbreak Control Engagement Board. This Board will oversee the prevention of Coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission within the borough and ensure outbreaks are managed effectively if and when they do happen. 

The Board will be chaired by Barnsley Council Leader, Cllr Sir Steve Houghton CBE, and its purpose will be to:

  • Provide oversight, assurance and scrutiny of plans to prevent and manage outbreaks of COVID-19 in Barnsley and actions taken to prevent and manage outbreaks and their outcomes

  • Lead communication with residents, businesses and stakeholders in the borough generally in relation to outbreak prevention and management.

  • Engage with communities and groups where outbreaks may be more likely or where they have occurred.

  • Ensure implementation of the Barnsley Outbreak Control Plan

The first meeting of the Board takes place today (Tuesday, 30 June).

Barnsley Council Leader, Cllr Sir Steve Houghton, added:

“I want to reassure the people of Barnsley that your council, and partners, continue to do all we can to keep you and your loved ones as safe as possible. 

“As we move to our new future, we must continue to follow the critical public health advice – maintaining social distancing, washing our hands thoroughly and regularly, and using face coverings in indoor spaces outside the home, or where social distancing isn’t possible.”

The plan can be found at www.barnsley.gov.uk/services/health-and-wellbeing/covid-19-coronavirus-advice-and-guidance/

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