Agenda and minutes

Informal Meeting, Health Scrutiny Committee
Wednesday, 19 January 2022 7:00 pm

Venue: Meeting to be held virtually

Contact: Claudia Wakefield, Senior Governance Officer 

No. Item


Declaration of Members' Interests

In accordance with the Council’s Constitution, Members are asked to declare any interest they may have in any matter which is to be considered at this meeting.


There were no declarations of interest.


Minutes - To note the minutes of the meeting held on 3 November 2021


The minutes of the meeting held on 3 November 2021 were noted.


Annual Director of Public Health Report- Equalities Challenges in Barking and Dagenham


The Director of Public Health (DPH) presented his Public Health Annual Report for 2020-21, which focussed on the health inequalities in the Borough, that had been made further stark by the Covid-19 pandemic. The report provided a snapshot of inequalities at a borough population-level and summarised the consultation feedback from key stakeholders on how to collectively reduce them and improve the health and wellbeing of all residents.


The DPH summarised some of the key health inequalities and challenges faced by black and minority ethnic (BAME) groups residing in the Borough, whilst also highlighting the deficiencies within local systems in collating accurate, reliable data. He emphasised the importance of noting that inequalities were worse than they were before the pandemic, which had severely impacted diagnostic tests and increased waiting lists for a number of conditions. Some of the challenges were very nuanced, and frequently changing; for example, the current Omicron wave of the pandemic had led to more younger groups occupying general acute medicine beds, which could potentially be attributed to issues such as vaccine hesitancy within particular BAME groups. His report did not have all the answers, but it did provide a starting point for understanding the impacts of inequalities on different groups and raised the key areas of exploration to address these challenges. It would also form the basis of the inequalities work that the Council was undertaking to inform its Corporate Plan and the future refresh of the Equality and Diversity Strategy.


In response to questions, the DPH stated that:


·  More could certainly be done to engage harder to reach groups at the earlier stages of service development to ensure new services would have the desired impact. Examples of this were the development of services for those with long Covid and the community hubs, which aimed to work with residents facing a range of issues impacting their health and wellbeing, such as domestic violence;

·  Those living in ‘houses in multiple occupation’ (HMOs) were a difficult to reach group and adding to this challenge was the high churn in families moving in and out of the Borough, particularly in certain wards such as Abbey;

·  One of the reasons the Borough was disproportionately hit by the pandemic was the higher number of HMOs in the Borough, as well as the higher proportion of residents who were employed in industries which exposed them more to the virus, such as hospitality and catering;

·  NHS Partners faced real challenges going forward and it was of paramount importance that they addressed the impact of the pandemic on waiting lists and services. Simultaneously, they had to adapt their services to meet future demand. This would be against the backdrop of limited resources and workforce challenges; and

·  Whilst it was true that many of the health issues faced by residents, like obesity and smoking, were preventable, these were often linked to the wider determinants of health such as deprivation and mental health problems, which were difficult to overcome in the short-term.


The Cabinet Member for Community  ...  view the full minutes text for item 25.


Update on the impact of the expansion of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in Barking and Dagenham, and how children and young people in Barking and Dagenham are being affected by air pollution following the recent case in Lewisham


The Service Manager for Environmental Health (SMEH) presented a report on the expansion of the ULEZ in the Borough and the impact on young people of air pollution. The report also provided an update on the main actions being progressed as part of the Council’s Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP), as well as outlining the key recommendations arising from a Coroner’s report on the death of a nine-year-old girl in 2013 who resided in Lewisham, who was the first person to have air pollution as a cause of death on her death certificate. The SMEH emphasised that the AQAP was not delivered by the Environmental Health team alone; a range of partners both within the Council (such as Public Health) and outside (such as BeFirst) all played an active part and were key to its success. One of the main aims of all partners was to drive behavioural changes in those residing and working in the Borough, via a good communications strategy and other initiatives, which would reduce air pollution.


In response to Members’ questions, the SMEH stated that:


·  There were two monitoring stations and 30 diffusion tubes in the Borough which measured PM 2.5 and PM10 (polluting particles) and Sulphur Dioxide to help the Council determine local air quality over a period of time;

·  A key aim was to reduce pollution concentration levels near schools by introducing low emission zones and the Street Schools project, which aimed to create pedestrian and cycle-only zones in the immediate vicinity of schools. The Council was also looking to introduce a level of enforcement near schools to tackle the issue of car idling, as this behaviour contributed to poor air quality; and

·  In relation to the A13 dual carriageway, there would be a consultation on this as the Mayor of London was looking to extend the ULEZ to cover further areas linked to it. Reducing pollution on the A13, which spanned across several boroughs, would require the Council to work with other local authorities on projects and campaigns, and any effect of such joint working would only be seen in the long term.


The Cabinet Member for Enforcement and Community Safety expressed concern that the Government had withdrawn plans for a train station at Beam Park, which would mean increased levels of car usage in this area. This example demonstrated the importance of a good public transport offer in local communities and the role it played in improving air quality.


The Council’s Member Champion for Climate Change (MCCC) stated that air quality and climate change were of the most important issues the world faced, particularly when considering that Covid-19 had thus far, caused serious respiratory illness. He raised a number of issues, as follows:


·  The locations of the two monitoring stations in the Borough (Scrattons Farm and Rush Green) were away from the metropolitan centres of the Borough where there was a higher density of residents and more construction work taking place. Therefore, they were not best placed to give  ...  view the full minutes text for item 26.


Health and Care Bill (House of Commons Bill 2021-22)


The report was noted.


Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee

The agenda reports pack and minutes of the last meeting of the Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee can be accessed via: Browse meetings - Joint Health Overview & Scrutiny Committee | The London Borough Of Havering


It was noted that the minutes of the last meeting of the Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee could be accessed via the web-link on the front sheet of the agenda.


Work Programme


The changes to the Work Programme, as detailed in the report, were agreed.