Public health

Public health

Public health looks to improve the health of the population and tackle inequalities.

Public health

The goal of public health in Northumberland is to improve and protect our residents' health and wellbeing, and improve the health of the poorest quickly.

Public health is about helping people to stay healthy and avoid getting ill, as well as reducing health inequalities to help people live longer, healthier lives.

Click here to see the Public Health Strategic Plan on a Page

Click here to see the 2015 Director of Public Health’s Annual Report
Click here to see the 2016 Director of Public Health's Annual Report

Click here to see the Northumberland Suicide Prevention Strategy 2017 - 2022

How are you? health quiz


What do we do?
The public health team at Northumberland County Council is committed to improving the health and wellbeing of the residents of Northumberland and reducing the inequalities in health that exist within and between communities.

The public health team in Northumberland work to raise awareness to support healthy lifestyles.

The key aims of public health are:
  • to increase healthy life expectancy in our residents through focusing on health quality as well as the length of life
  • to increase equity in life expectancy and healthy life expectancy between communities through achieving bigger improvements in our more disadvantaged communities
Public health commissions a range health and wellbeing services covering a range of policy areas including:
  • tobacco control
  • healthy eating
  • physical activity
  • alcohol harm prevention
  • integrated community sexual health services
  • long acting reversible contraception in primary care
  • mental wellbeing
  • NHS health check assessment
  • Healthy Child Programme 0-19 years
  • specialist drug and alcohol services
A full list of the functions and responsibilities can be found here.

Public health also works to achieve the following:
  • Health protection: The team’s projects include assurance around immunisations and screening, sexual health and contraception, children’s public health and health emergency planning. 
  • Population health: specialist research and intelligence, which includes health needs assessments (HNA), joint strategic needs assessment, health impact assessment (HIA), service reviews, healthcare public health advice and evidence-based briefings.
  • Wider determinants: working to address the social determinants of health which impact on the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities, and are they key cause of health inequalities.

Public health works closely with national organisations such as NHS England and Public Health England.

A New Way of Working

The Being Well  Café – A Community Conversation
People living in and around Berwick were invited to come to the Swan Centre in August 2015 to participate in a community conversation about being well. The event was called The Being Well Café and its aim was to:

  • meet people from the area
  • find out what is important to local people
  • identify community strengths and assets
  • help people connect to support and resources. 
The Public Health Team plan to invite residents from other localities in the county to similar events in the future.  Please click here to read the report from the Cafe.
Wider determinants of health
Health isn’t just affected by lifestyle choices but by a range of other factors including working conditions, housing, employment, education and access to quality healthcare services.
Below are a number of topic-based briefings which help make the link to public health:
Healthy Living Pharmacies
Pharmacies play an important role in reducing health inequalities through delivering high-quality health and wellbeing services. The Healthy Living Pharmacy initiative encourages pharmacies to promote health and wellbeing messages and engage with their local community.

Healthy Living Pharmacies are required to have a minimum of one healthy living champion trained in Royal Society of Public Health level two: Understanding Health Improvement. As well as this, pharmacies must have an individual in a leadership/management position who is willing to undertake training to support the development of the pharmacy.

If your pharmacy wishes to become a Healthy Living Pharmacy, please contact David Turnbull on 01670 625527 or email for training.
Work place health
The council is committed to improving the health of its workforce as they understand that happier, healthier employees are at the heart of our future plans. Public health commissions the Better Health at Work Award and is also supporting Northumberland County Council (NCC) to progress its own work on this scheme from the Gold Award to Continuing Excellence. The main targets for the organisation are:
  • to continue to deliver health campaigns based around physical activity, cancer awareness, alcohol, working wisely and mental health and wellbeing
  • to provide a mentoring role to businesses on lower levels of the awards. NCC has chosen to mentor Healthy Living Pharmacies at the bronze level of the award.
  • to maintain the strong network of health advocates NCC has built up since initiation of the Healthier Together workplace strategy
  • to ensure health topics are promoted in the wider community and families of the workforce
Pharmaceutical Needs Assessment
A pharmaceutical needs assessment (PNA) describes the health needs of the population, current pharmaceutical services provision and any gaps in that provision. It also identifies potential new services to meet health needs and help achieve the objectives of the strategic plan, while taking account of financial constraints.

The Northumberland Health and Wellbeing Board is required to publish a pharmaceutical needs assessment (PNA) for the county. View the most recent version here.

Pharmacy Needs Assessment (PNA) Consultation

The purpose of the PNA is to identify health needs which could be met by services commissioned from community pharmacies, and to match these against the services currently provided, identifying any gaps. NHS England will use the PNA to determine whether applications for additional NHS pharmacy contracts would fill these gaps.
The draft Pharmaceutical Needs Assessment (PNA) for Northumberland Council  can be viewed by clicking here

The consultation period will run from Wednesday 29th November 2017 until Wednesday 31st January 2018. If you would like to respond to the consultation please click on this survey link or send your comments to
Elizabeth Morgan
Acting Director of Public Health
Pharmacy Needs Assessment Consultation
Northumberland County Council 
County Hall
NE61 2EF
It would be helpful if you considered gaps in service as outlined in the consultation questions below.
  • Are there any factual inaccuracies or omissions in the draft PNA?
  • Do you think the purpose of the PNA has been explained?
  • Do you think that the draft PNA accurately describes the range of pharmaceutical services available in Northumberland?
  • Does the draft PNA adequately reflect local pharmaceutical needs?
  • Are you aware of any pharmaceutical services provided in Northumberland that are not currently included in the PNA?
  • Is there any other information which you feel should be included in the PNA?
  • How could the process be improved for future iterations of the PNA?
  • Is there a need for additional pharmacy services which the HWB has not identified in the PNA?
  • Does the PNA  adequately reflect the need for community pharmacies to support extended GP hours?
  • Are you aware of any future plans which would impact on the need for community pharmacy services
  • What do you see as the three priorities for future commissioning of services through community pharmacies?

Privacy Notice

All Local Authorities have a duty to improve the health of the population they serve. To help with this, we use data and information from a range of sources including hospitals to understand more about the nature and causes of disease and ill-health in the area.

Health checks

A free check with your GP helps to identify potential risks early.

About health checks

Everyone is at some risk of developing certain health conditions, and a NHS health check aims to help you lower your risk of developing these common but often preventable diseases.

You will be invited for a free NHS health check with your GP once every five years if you are between 40 and 74 years old, and have not already been diagnosed with vascular diseases (including heart disease, previous stroke, chronic renal disease or diabetes) or have certain risk factors such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol treated by medication.

  • The check will take around 20 to 30 minutes.
  • You will be asked about your family history, smoking and alcohol.
  • Your height, weight, sex, ethnicity and age will be recorded.
  • Your blood pressure will be taken.
  • A simple blood test will check your cholesterol level.
  • Your body mass index (BMI) will be calculated. BMI is a measure of whether you're a healthy weight for your height.

Following the check, you will receive free personalised advice about what you can do to stay healthy. If the health check highlights any potential problems you will be offered advice and support to help you address them.

Health advice for parents, families & young people

A wide range of information and support is available through working within communities and across agencies.

It is the aim of Northumberland County Council that all children grow up in safe, healthy environments with secure relationships which are positive.

Support during pregnancy and early life
The Start 4 Life website has useful information such as:
  • tips and advice for mums-to-be on having a healthy pregnancy
  • feeding and activity tips to get your baby off to the best start
  • tips and ideas for dads-to-be to help their partners
  • easy tips and ideas for friends and family members for helping mums-to-be
Throughout Northumberland there are a number of Sure Start children’s centres to ensure that all children get the best possible start in life. At the centres, families with children under five can access support and information about health services, volunteering groups, education and community groups.
  • To find your nearest Sure Start children’s centre click here.
  • For information on breastfeeding-friendly premises in Northumberland and more, visit Breastfeeding Northumberland 
  • Healthy Start is a government scheme designed to help pregnant women and children under four, in low-income families, eat healthily. Weekly vouchers to spend on milk, fruit, vegetables or infant formula are provided. It also gives useful information on healthy eating and general health. 
Support for young people

Specialised young person-friendly health services are available in Northumberland. The statutory youth service works with partnership agencies in health and the council to support young people with additional needs, providing a wide range of opportunities that will be useful both now and in the future.

To find out more about the changes happening to children during puberty and adolescence, visit the World Health Organization's webpages on both neurodevelopment and physical development.

Healthy weight

A healthy weight usually means being within a set range that compares your weight to your height. It is calculated using a body mass index (BMI) score in adults and a BMI centile in children.

Obesity and being overweight usually occurs as a result of eating and drinking more calories over time than you burn off through physical activity. If you are overweight or obese, you are more likely to develop serious health conditions such as type two diabetes, heart disease, strokes and some cancers.

Healthy eating
Moving a little more and eating a little better can help a lot. Small changes are easier to maintain, but can make a big difference.
  • Cut back on fatty and sugary foods.
  • Reduce portion sizes.
  • Eat regularly at set times throughout the day - including breakfast.
  • Swap unhealthy snacks for fruit or vegetables.
  • Reward children with your time or an outdoor activity rather than with food.
  • Visit the Change 4 Life website for advice on healthy eating on a budget.    
Being active
  • Be more active in daily life - walk or cycle short journeys, especially to school or work. It will save you money too! Visit the Go Smarter Northumberland site for more information.
  • It's not just about being active but also reducing the time you spend sitting still. Set yourself a TV time limit at home, and at your desk try to stand up and walk around every hour.
  • There are many walks around Northumberland. Read more on Shepherds Walks and Visit Northumberland.
  • If cycling is more your thing, you can find more information here.
How can I ensure I am a healthy weight?
The public health service commissions exercise on referral schemes, which work with local GP surgeries to encourage individuals with health concerns to become more active.

A person is referred to a leisure centre by their GP, where they attend an appointment with a member of the fitness team to assess their needs and abilities. They then attend activities, which can include fitness classes, swimming or gym sessions. Health trainers offer a free service to anyone living in Northumberland who is over 16. Your GP, district nurse, or other health practitioner can refer you to a health trainer or you can get in touch with us directly. Get Active Northumberland (GAN) is a free programme supporting those concerned about their weight. It offers activities, advice and programmes for parents, children and teenagers. Northumberland’s Roots and Shoots schools programme gives the opportunity for children to learn how to plant and grow fresh food. It involves advice to support school gardening clubs, as well as health education and physical activity programmes. The role of Northumberland Sport is to increase participation in sport and physical activity. They provide information on their website about sporting and physical activities around the county.

Mental wellbeing

Mental wellbeing is feeling positive, satisfied, realising your abilities, being productive, able to cope with daily stresses and survive difficult situations.

Poor mental wellbeing can lead to problems such as depression and anxiety.

Protecting your own mental wellbeing
There are simple actions that, if practised regularly, can improve our mental wellbeing. Learn about some of these steps on the NHS website.

Here are some tips to help:
  • Keep active for 30 minutes, five times a week.
  • Eat healthily by consuming five fruit and vegetable portions a day, cutting down on fatty/salty/sugary food and eating less starchy carbohydrates such as bread and potatoes.
  • Only drink alcohol on a maximum of two to three days a week, having no more than two to three units a day if you are female, and three to four units a day if you are male. See your GP if you are having problems with alcohol.
  • Stop smoking with help from your GP, who can refer you to a service for support and advice.
  • The ‘Bait’ project is designed to engage people in South East Northumberland in the arts, which you can find out more about here
If you are having problems
Dementia is caused by a number of diseases that affect the brain. The most common is Alzheimer's but diseases also include vascular dementiadementia with Lewy bodies and Pick's disease. Here are some useful links to websites:
  • The national campaign Dementia Friends aims to lessen stigmas to create a more dementia-friendly society.
  • The Alzheimer’s Society offers help, information and support if you are worried about or affected by dementia.
  • Carers Northumberland is a charity offering support for carers to access help for the person they care for. 

Sexual health

Sexual health and wellbeing affects most people’s lives at some point. It is crucial that people are supported to make the right choices.

Across the UK there has been an increase in the number of people with sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Some young people are particularly affected, so programmes are supported through education, health services and work with parents and community youth teams.

Sexual health
Chlamydia is the most common STI but, because it does not cause any noticeable symptoms, most people do not know they are infected. Chlamydia can be treated by a dose of antibiotics but if untreated it could lead to serious long-term health consequences, including infertility.

Using condoms helps prevent the spread of STIs and unwanted pregnancy. They are available free for those under 25 from contraceptive services, GUM clinics, pharmacies and some youth projects, where the ‘C-Card’ sign is displayed.

The teenage pregnancy rate in Northumberland is at its lowest level since 1998 and it is our aim to ensure all pregnancies are planned and supported as a choice. Your local clinic can advise on family planning options and help you choose the right contraception.

Emergency contraception and advice is also available free of charge from most pharmacies across the country.
Psychosexual counselling
Psychosexual counselling is a specialised therapeutic technique carried out by professionals. It aims to help people living with difficulties that are of a psychological, sexual nature and that are too difficult or complex to be resolved on their own. If you are having problems, please contact your GP who may refer you to the specialist service in Northumberland.
If you have been diagnosed with HIV, or you are close to someone living with HIV, help is available from organisations who understand the social and emotional issues that often go along with this condition.

Talk to someone in confidence at your local GUM (genito-urinary medicine) clinic about HIV tests. You can have a test without having to identify yourself, and counselling is available if you need it.

Smoking & tobacco

More than 80% of people in Northumberland are non-smokers, yet smoking is still our main cause of preventable illness and death. It is a leading cause of health inequalities and is responsible for much of the difference in life expectancy between the rich and poor.

If you want help to stop smoking
Call the Northumberland Stop Smoking Service on 01670 813135 for a friendly, experienced team of advisers and specialists.

They will give you advice, support and encouragement to stop smoking for good. With expert help from the stop smoking service you are four times more likely to succeed than those who try to quit without support.

Everyone is different, so there are many support options available including:
  • motivational tips on how to stay on track
  • the chance to use a carbon monoxide monitor, to see your recovery in action
  • a choice of support to fit your lifestyle
  • stop smoking medicines to help beat cravings, from nicotine patches and gum, to nasal sprays, inhalators and tablets
Sessions are already established in Northumberland and are held in community venues, GP practices and pharmacies.

Stoptober is an annual campaign which promotes stopping smoking for 28 days. This means you will be five times more likely to stop for good.
Tobacco control – what are we doing?
As well as helping smokers who want to quit, we also aim to tackle the death, disability and disease caused by smoking and to make smoking less desirable, less accessible and less affordable.

Locally this means preventing the uptake of smoking, helping those who want to quit and protecting people from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke. Public health works with many departments and agencies to plan and deliver a broad range of activities. More information and support can be found on the Stop Smoking NHS pages and Smokefree website.

The council also supports the work of Fresh: a programme set up in the North East to tackle the worst rates of smoking-related illness and death in England. Their aim is to give millions of people in the North East information, motivation and confidence to stop smoking, or not to start in the first place.

Flu jabs

Flu is a nasty illness which can spread easily. Find out more about flu jabs here.

Protect yourself & your family from flu
If you are pregnant, aged over 65 years, have a long-term health condition (both adults and children), or you are a carer or healthcare professional, please get your flu vaccination now.

You are especially at risk of flu if you are a pregnant woman or have a weakened immune system such as a neurological disorder, liver, lung or renal disease, heart problem or diabetes.

The flu vaccination is being offered as a nasal spray for two and three-year-olds, as young children’s close contact with each other means that they are more likely to transmit the virus to groups including the elderly.

Almost 800 people in England were admitted to intensive care with complications of flu last year. Each winter, hundreds of thousands of people see their GP and tens of thousands are hospitalised because of flu.

Don’t put it off. It’s important that you contact your GP surgery as soon as you can.

Alcohol & drugs

If you or someone you know has a problem with alcohol or drugs, there's a wide range of help available.

Northumberland County Council is committed to supporting responsible drinking, but recognises there are problems associated with overconsumption of alcohol. This can result in risks to health, relationships and community safety. 

Alcohol & you

To enjoy lower-risk drinking it is important to know the number of units in a drink depends on the amount you drink and the strength. The Department of Health's lower risk guidelines are:

  • Adults should not exceed two to three units per day.
  • Avoid 'saving up' the weekly units to drink in one day, but spread them over at least three days.
  • Aim for several alcohol-free days each week.
  • No level of alcohol is safe to drink in pregnancy.
  • Children shouldn’t drink alcohol.
Examples of unit amounts for adults:
  • one pint of 4% strength beer = 2.3 units
  • one 25ml measure of spirits  = 1 unit
  • one medium 175ml glass of wine (13% abv) = 2.3 units
  • one 330ml alcopop (5% abv)  = 1.5 units
For more unit information and examples, head to the NHS Livewell pages.
Alcohol: helpful information and support
If you are caring for someone who uses drugs and alcohol and need support, visit Adfam or Escape Family Support.
Concerned about drugs?
If you think you may have a problem with drugs, there's a wide range of services that can help. Some are provided by the NHS, and some are specialist drug facilities run by charities and private organisations. If you are caring for someone who uses drugs and alcohol and you need support, visit Adfam or Escape Family Support.

Public Health Consultation

CONSULTATION - Section 75 Partnership Agreement 0-19 Public Health Service (Healthy Child Programme)

The 0-19 Public Health Service (also referred to as the Healthy Child Programme) includes health visiting and school nursing; support for vulnerable parents; young person’s substance misuse services; and support for health and wellbeing improvement in schools. 

Northumberland County Council and Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust would like to enter into a formal partnership agreement to allow the Trust to deliver the  0-19  Public Health Service on the Council's behalf. 

To do this, the Council and the Trust, as potential partners, have to consult with any stakeholders who we think may be affected by the partnership being put in place.  Although the partnership agreement itself will not directly affect the service model, we are really keen to take this opportunity to also seek the views of stakeholders about various aspects of the service.

This consultation will run from 17th January 2017 until 16th February 2017.
This consultation is now closed.