Since publishing my first post (below) I received this communication from the Director of Public Health:
Dear Cllr Longhi,
Historically, the NHS in Walsall has achieved and maintained very high uptake rates for all childhood immunisations including MMR.
This is reflected in the figures received from Public Health England on numbers of confirmed and probable cases of measles: very low numbers in Walsall as compared with Shire Counties in the West Midlands
Early indications from local figures are that we have around 2000 children (under 18) unimmunised with MMR (approx 3.5% of the age group ) which is above the level required for ‘herd immunity’ in which unimmunised children are protected because the high levels of immunity in the community means the disease does not circulate and therefore they are not exposed.
Nevertheless, we will be asking parents and carers of young people who have not had two doses of MMR to take this taking this opportunity to bring their immunisations upto date and achieve maximum protection.
Uma, Mandy and I are meeting @4pm to agree the details of local action, in partnership with PHE, NHS Commissioning Board and CCG Colleagues
I will update you with the details later on.
The outbreak of measles in Wales is having a major impact and the widely debated, and disputed, ‘research’ by Andrew Wakefiled published in 1998 is now being blamed for the serious risk to public health this is posing in Wales mainly (for now).
Predicting how this outbreaks may affect the rest of the country is not easy, but sufficient concern is clearly present amongst NHS chiefs that they have announced a large programme of vaccination around the country. Here is how the BBC has reported this.
Walsall Council has chosen to respond with this release which enforces the advice to ensure that all young children who have not received the MMR to do so by arranging an appointment with their local GP.
I have received two helpful documents from NHS Central Midlands Commissioning Support Unit, this first describing Public Health England plans and how these relate to the West Midlands, the second a briefing pack for Councillors – which I include as it is a very helpful and informative document.
I have consulted with senior officers as to whether, in their view, Health Scrutiny should conduct a special meeting to understand the detail of responses by NHS Walsall, Cabinet and Health and Director of Public Health to the Measles outbreak. The response I have received suggests that our Director of Public Health has reported to Cabinet and that – based on this report – it is not considered necessary to hold a special Health Scrutiny meeting.
While I trust the judgement of senior officers I have not seen or heard the DPH’s briefing and when I asked for the cabinet minutes that would reflect this advice I was told that no minutes were taken. So, while I have a degree of reassurance I am not as yet assured as to what is being done – which is unfortunate.
I am not a physician, I am just ‘another person’ who happens to be an elected member. However, I do know that if my children had not received the immunisation I would want it administered asap and I also feel that, locally, I would prefer to see a greater effort made in raising awareness and in giving people clear guidance and information by all stakeholders.