Report Outlines the Impact of a Healthy Lifestyle

Northumberland’s natural assets, cultural history and rural beauty are just some of the reasons the county is so attractive.  But it’s rurality also has an influence on people’s health, according to the 2017 Director of Public Health Annual Report.  

Elizabeth Morgan, presenting her first annual report as Director of Public Health at Northumberland County Council, says: “Supporting and enabling people to make healthier lifestyle choices is really important in terms of improving the health and wellbeing of our population and that’s where much of our energy has historically been focused. 

“But education and skills, employment and income, healthy homes, and access to transport also support good health.

“Our health is driven by the way we live our lives and the social circumstances in which we’re born, grow and work.  We need to look at this bigger picture and improve some of these social determinants if we’re going to achieve the long and healthy lives we want for the people in our county, because these factors have a much bigger impact on our overall health than healthcare and lifestyle choices”.

By identifying and addressing the social influences on health, the Report outlines a plan for future work.  In addition, the North of Tyne Devolution Deal provides an opportunity to improve the health and wellbeing of residents. For Northumberland, proposals to upskill those in low paid employment, to support people back into employment, and to drive improvements for rural growth and productivity are particularly relevant.

Key recommendations in the report outline:
- A ‘Health in All Policies’ approach, through the Health and Wellbeing Board.
- Use the ‘Making Every Contact Count’ approach  to enable frontline practitioners from health and social care to actively support vulnerable people living. 
- Using the ‘Better Health at Work Award’ to encourage employers to develop travel plans which promote walking or cycling.
- A multi-agency review of patient/service user transport plans across health and social care, making better use of collective resources.
- Embed a ‘More than Medicine’ approach to connect clinical care and social influences.
- Use the NICE Quality Standard for preventing winter deaths and illness associated with cold homes.

Northumberland County Councillor, Veronica Jones, cabinet member for adult wellbeing and  health said: “Northumberland is in good health overall and we have made significant progress in recent years to improve the health of our residents. However, we recognise we still have lots to do to narrow the gap where health and social inequalities exist.

“We are working hard to build resilience in our communities, increase wellbeing, address health and social inequalities across the county and extend the number of years that people live in good health.”
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