Health chief thanks army of volunteers across Harrogate district for help during Covid times

North Yorkshire's Director of Public Health, Louise Wallace has published her first Annual Report and describes the first year in her post as a year like no other and "the biggest public health challenge in living memory".
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Mrs Wallace was appointed earlier this year and is the first woman to take up the appointment or local Government in North Yorkshire, with her role being about levelling up, advocating for health of the entire population and showing that health and wealth are inter-related.

Within the report, she pays tribute to the people who live and work in the county and her report, ‘Making Sense of Covid-19’, which is published on Tuesday, is an account of how they have faced and responded to the pandemic.

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She stated: “Some of it will be very familiar, especially for the many thousands of people who were ill with Covid-19 and the families, friends and colleagues of more than 1300 people lost to Covid-19 in North Yorkshire alone, and we will remember them.”

North Yorkshire Director of Public Health Louise WallaceNorth Yorkshire Director of Public Health Louise Wallace
North Yorkshire Director of Public Health Louise Wallace

She also describes how Public Health was supported in its mission to protect the health of the population by an army of volunteers and the many community organisations who gave their time and energy to support people who were isolated and made vulnerable by the pandemic.

Harrogate district areas where Covid infections rose the fastest in the past week

She added: “What stands out most for me are the amazing acts of kindness that people across the whole of North Yorkshire have shown to each other.

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"Communities rallied around for each other and stood strong.

“Our NHS colleagues were rightly lauded but right across the health and social care system, colleagues gave everything and more to keep people safe and connected.

“I wish to thank the people of North Yorkshire for the care, compassion and community spirit that they have shown to each other throughout this time.”

Despite the challenges of Covid, Public Health has maintained crucial services such as the service to help people stop smoking; drug and alcohol services; adult weight management and helping people keep physically active .

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In her report, she details how the team worked with agencies and partners across the county to deliver effective outbreak management and testing and prepared for population for mass vaccination, with this work continuing.

The annual report has also set priorities for the year ahead including improving mental health and wellbeing across the whole population, ensuring that babies, children and young people get the best start in life, making sure that the older age population can age well and ensuring that the working age population have opportunities to live well.

She added: “It is clear that we will need to continue to respond to Covid-19 in our immediate future and together we will find a way to learn to live with the virus.

“But my hope is that we will build on what we have learnt during this time and that we focus on recovery as jobs and the economy as well as education and the homes and communities we live in, have a crucial role to play in being healthy and well.”