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P112 An exploration of changes in COVID-19 transmission risk, response and resilience in Greater Manchester during the course of the pandemic – lessons learnt and future challenges
  1. Cath Lewis1,
  2. Sheena Johnson2,
  3. Claire Mann2,
  4. Janet Ubido1,
  5. Bernadine Farrell1
  1. 1Department of Public Health, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
  2. 2Alliance Manchester Business School, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK


Background The study investigated how changes in policy and advice, as set out in the government report ‘Living with COVID’, affected COVID-19 transmission risk, response and resilience across different occupational settings. The project also examined how Greater Manchester workplaces were supported by local authority public health and environmental health teams during the course of the pandemic.

Methods The project undertook a mixed methods approach collecting both qualitative and quantitative data across the Greater Manchester region between August and November 2022. Quantitative data was obtained from online surveys for employees (n=491) and employers (n=149). Qualitative data was gathered from 19 interviews with local authority public health and environmental health teams who supported employers to help them reduce COVID-19 transmission and manage outbreaks during the course of the pandemic.

Results The research suggests that many of the levers previously available to control COVID-19 transmission, such as access to testing and formal Government guidance, were no longer available for the majority of workplaces at the time of data collection. The research also highlighted the inequitable impact of the pandemic on those already experiencing health inequalities, including people on more precarious employment contracts and people who were unable to work from home during the pandemic.

Conclusion The study demonstrated the benefits of good quality local data facilitated by excellent local partnerships and a sense of community and collaborative working. Participants discussed partnerships that had been established during the pandemic and had now been broadened to address other health issues. Others discussed partnerships that were in place ready to tackle future pandemics or other health crises. It is vital therefore to draw on lessons learned throughout the pandemic to address wider health issues and to ensure preparedness for any future events.

Facilitators identified in the interviews that helped local authorities to support employers to manage transmission included detailed national guidance, good communication, partnership working, funding, and timely access to data. Barriers to supporting employers included contradictory or confusing national guidance, structural inequalities/lack of funding, and delayed access to data.

Interview participants reported that local authorities were now focussing on other issues, including the cost-of living crisis, now that COVID-19 was less all-consuming. They highlighted, however, that the partnerships that they had formed during the pandemic could be focussed on these other health issues and were in place ready to address future pandemics.


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