Improving health and wellbeing
Promoting the health of people and communities, and addressing inequalities in health, are key issues for local authorities in the North East.
Local authorities have a wide range of important roles in improving people's health and wellbeing, including:
- Ensuring that health services, public health and social care services are jointly planned and commissioned and fully integrated;
- leading the Health and Wellbeing Boards that run in every authority area;
- improving the nation's health, alongside Public Health England and delivering a wide range of public health functions; and
- employing a director of public health to lead this work.
Our local authorities are committed to using these opportunities to bring about improvements in health outcomes for the people and communities of the North East. Working together through the Association of North East Councils, councils are tackling the most critical public health issues including tobacco control, alcohol, obesity and workplace health.
A key objective in all of this is to focus on prevention, and on supporting people to take responsibility for their own health, so as to reduce the demand for costly hospital services and relieve the pressure on accident and emergency departments. But to enable this to happen, we need a local government funding system that reflects need and deprivation and ensures that social care is adequately funded. Economic prosperity is critical to achieving better health outcomes.
While much good work has already been done, serious health inequalities still exist between the North East and other regions, and between different parts of the North East. The North/South divide in health was illustrated most recently by Public Health England’s report ‘Due North’, which showed that the North of England has persistently had poorer health than the rest of England and the gap has continued to widen over four decades.
The region's key health challenges and opportunities were highlighted at a major health event, 'People, Partnerships, Progress: the Future for Health and Wellbeing in the North East', organised by the Association of North East Councils on 30 October 2014. Speakers noted that the record of authorities in the North East had demonstrated the potential for leadership, coordination and practical actions to tackle entrenched problems such as tobacco and alcohol use. Meeting the challenges that face us will more than ever require collaboration, innovation and intelligent use of resources.
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