Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Remote Microsoft Teams Meeting

Contact: Democratic Services 

Note: Livestreaming of Select Committee Meetings are temporarily suspended - apologies for any inconvenience 

No. Item


Meeting Start


The chair asked officers to introduce themselves and she reminded members of actions of the previous meeting. The actions included writing a letter of thanks to social care staff and writing to the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board to request information on a range of matters identified by the select committee.


Declarations of interest


An overview of the Test Trace and Protect system operating in Gwent pdf icon PDF 120 KB


The committee were presented a generic overview of the current situation and the Track Trace and Protect (TTP) system which has been operating for a month. Officers advised that the collaboration with health and Torfaen County Borough Council has been working well so far. Approximately 300 tests were being done daily and so far, only 1% of tests were positive. It was explained that because the number of cases are fewer than England, the system is quite different to the system operating in England, with the council’s Environmental Health Officers playing a vital role in contact tracing.  Members heard that existing staff are taking the lead on contact tracing, but that over the longer term, roles are likely to need to be recruited. The committee heard that this entirely new way of working has required a significant amount of work to be undertaken over a very short time to establish a functioning system. 


Officers advised that one of the key advantages to the local authority leading on TTP is knowing and understanding the locality very well, so that unlike the national system in England, the team can respond rapidly.   The team works proactively with health to understand what the issues might be and for example, had been in contact with some of the meat processing plants to make sure they are familiar with what they can do in terms of preventative action. Members heard that a second testing centre opened yesterday in Blaenau Gwent (additional to Rodney Parade) and that this is likely to increase the number of positive covid results.




·         There are concerns relating to farmers visiting slaughterhouses and meat processing sites. Are protocols in place to ensure masks are worn, regardless of whether the person has symptoms?  

Farming and Slaughterhouses and meat processing plants are Food Standard Agency regulated and also are governed through the Health and Safety Executive, so they should be following guidelines, but officers will raise concerns around social distancing with them.


·         Is antibody testing still taking place, which would allow people to return to work with some immunity?

At the moment, there are concerns about the reliability of the antibody test, so it is being piloted in schools as a first phase.


·         Please can you explain the resourcing around the TTP system and the pairing up with Torfaen. What happens when EHO’s return to their day job?

Resourcing this is a matter for Welsh Government (WG) to determine. We are expecting a response from them this week to see what they will support. There is an expectation from WG and health colleagues that we absorb the costs for now, given that EHO’s are not performing their usual duties due to the closure of many food and retail premises, but when officers return to their usual roles, we will need to specifically recruit people.  When testing increases, we will need to ramp up our TTP staff capacity, but we are awaiting clarity. The rationale for partnering with Torfaen Council was to reduce duplication of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.


An overview of Care Homes for Older People in Monmouthshire and the impact of COVID-19 pdf icon PDF 755 KB


The Chief Officer advised that this report requested by the committee was timely and enabled members to be sighted on the key issues facing care homes ahead of any future public inquiry. She introduced the report advising that Monmouthshire has experienced 27 deaths in care homes, which is devastating for the families affected and explained there is a need for caution going forward.  We have data which helps us to understand the picture and context - whilst there has been a decline in current occupancy in care homes, this is not solely due to covid 19. It is important to recognise that some settings are new and are not fully up to their capacity and some have been instructed by the external regulators to reduce numbers whilst taking specific actions. Partnership working has been very important, with care homes needing a lot more contact and support. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) was a major concern, care settings usually sourcing their own, but with restrictions meaning they could not access it, we had to ensure an effective distribution system. Infection control has also been a major issue, with changing guidance at a rapid pace. In terms of hospital discharge and testing, the procedure has been revised to require a negative test48 hours prior to discharge.  The financial stability of care homes has been affected by fewer admissions and if settings have had a case, they have been restricted on taking in new patients.


In terms of what happens next and how we move forward, we are identifying the support providers require to continue in the immediate future. We’ll keep in place procedures that have helped our care homes. We need to better understand the capacity for beds and we must continue to make sure PPE is available. We also must ensure we provide clear guidance on infection control. We are awaiting news from Welsh Government (WG) on the ‘Hardship fund’ and whether these monies will continue post June. In addition, we are working with settings to consider pragmatically how they can take in new patients. 




·         Have there been any challenges in interpreting WG guidance and claiming the hardship funding?

We have given settings as much information as possible on WG guidance and we have assisted them to claim monies to assist them. We have had one claim challenged, which is disappointing, as providers need these monies to survive.


·         In terms of PPE, some areas have over capacity of PPE and problems storing it. Have we got the right items and sufficient storage of these for any potential 2nd wave? 

We have a good PPE stock and we have stores in the county which are accessible 24/7 if needed.  The Army gave guidance to WG on delivering what areas needed, rather than supplying simply what was available.   We are in a confident position going forward in terms of PPE.


·         How resilient economically is the sector?

In terms of the long term viability, care homes need a greater profile. 2.5% of the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Work Programme


The committee agree that this is under development and will discuss at a future informal meeting.



To confirm the minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 110 KB


Agreed as a true and accurate method.