Today I went to the Mail Box in Birmingham to do a Radio WM interview on the Ed Doolan Show. Ed was off sick (get better soon, Ed!) and so Jimmy Franks was in the chair.
The Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Birmingham City Council, which I chair, carried out a review into how the city coped with the outbreak of swine flu earlier in the summer (we were one of the country’s hotspots), and I was on the show to talk about the resulting report which I will be presenting to Full Council tomorrow.
Usually, Scrutiny Reports contain a number of recommendations which are then passed to the relevant Council Department or outside organisation. In this case however, it was imperative that any changes made were put into place immediately – ahead of the autumn when there is expected to be an upsurge in cases again.
So tomorrow’s report lists the issues which are already being acted upon. One of these is that a protocol has been drawn up surrounding school closures. It is the Headteacher and Governors of a school who make the decision whether or not to close it, following advice from the Health Protection Agency and in conjunction with Birmingham City Council.
There were a number of school closures in the summer but that was because we were in the “containment” stage of the disease, where the aim was to try and stop it spreading. That stage is now past, and school closures should be unlikely unless there is an issue such as shortage of staff because of illness. Even then it is hoped other arrangements can be made, rather than closing a school.
Tomorrow starts with another interview on the report and the monthly Full Council begins at 2.00pm.