Online Editions

6th Jul, 2022

Baptism of fire for Warwickshire health chief

Ian Hughes 24th Jul, 2020 Updated: 24th Jul, 2020

THE DIRECTOR of Public Health for Warwickshire has spoken of her ‘baptism of fire’.

Dr Shade Agboola, director of Public Health at Warwickshire County Council (WCC), has been recognised for her efforts to manage the Covid-19 pandemic as part of the West Midlands Employers (WME) #EverydayHeroes campaign.

Her passion for treating preventable diseases started in Nigeria while working to help prevent children dying from malaria and malnutrition.

Dr Agboola only took up her role in Warwickshire last October doing a job that is among the most critical to local government’s response to the pandemic, as it provides the link between the NHS and councils.

“It’s been a baptism of fire. When I got the call from Public Health England (PHE) in late March informing me about the first case of Covid-19 case in Warwickshire, I never imagined that things would be where they are now.

“That was the beginning of an unbelievable experience for me – I’ve never been so busy and I’m still working every weekend along with public health colleagues to ensure that we are providing a round the clock response to the pandemic.

“No amount of training could have prepared me for what was to come, but it’s worth it, especially when you can see the number of cases falling and you know that you are making a difference.”

Even before the start of lockdown Shade and the top level of emergency planning group at WCC were meeting daily to decide actions needed to implement the government’s Coronavirus Action Plan.

She spent a lot of time working with partners across Warwickshire – especially the district and borough councils to ensure everyone was kept up to date.

Part of the challenge was the speed at which things were happening.

“At the peak of the pandemic there was so much guidance, it was hard to keep up. For example the guidance on the use of PPE changed over time – and was very different in different settings such as care homes, schools or the workplace and this had to be carefully managed.”

It was down to Dr Agboola and her team to translate the government guidance and get it to people who needed it quickly. They provided a lot of support to care homes 24/7 and brought in testing when it was clear it was essential. They also set up an out of hours rota of support to care homes.

Much of Dr Agboola’s time now is spent on Test and Trace.

“Traditional contact tracing can be very effective and essential to contain local outbreaks. We are one of the 11 national Beacon projects, with Coventry and Solihull councils and the West Midlands Combined Authority, to pilot how we work together on our Outbreak Control Plan. Our Plan has now been launched and sets out how we will quickly identify and isolate cases to help us stop and manage outbreaks.”

But she admits to mixed feelings about the recent easing of lockdown.

“The risk is still very much with us. But I’m also concerned about the mental health impact on those people who have been shielding for three months now, often with very little human contact. I know we’ve had an increase in calls about mental health. So while I do welcome easing of the lockdown, I don’t want anyone to think that this is over – that’s not the case.”

And she is also focused on PHE findings about people from BAME backgrounds being at higher risk of dying from Covid-19.

“My Director of Public Health Annual Report will certainly be focused on health inequalities. We also still have an NHS that remains a treatment service – more emphasis needs to go into prevention and the entire system needs to change.”

* Local authority improvement body WME, owned by 33 councils across the West Midlands, launched the campaign to recognise #EverydayHeroes – council workers who are working around the clock to keep essential services running and keep us safe through the coronavirus crisis.

Anyone can nominate one or more local council heroes. Visit wmheroes.co.uk/meet-your-heroes for full details.

Dr Shade Agboola – baptism of fire.

Reader Travel

Check out all of the latest reader travel offers to get your hands on some free gifts.

Online Editions

Catch up on your local news by reading our e-editions on the Leamington Observer.

Digital Advertising

Advertise on the Leamington Observer to boost your online presence.

Recruitment

Find a career you'll love with our free career finder website.