1 Dec 2012

Fit for the Future is not fit?

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Local authorities take over public health responsibilities from 2013. The challenges will be immense. Sadly the county is seemingly already off on the wrong foot: their consultation, entitled 'Fit for the Future' looks at their health and social services but sadly their proposed approach misses the point. While the report recognises how key factors like housing, employment, poverty, education and crime lead to health inequalities, it suggests the approach should focus on individual lifestyles (i). I would love to see Public Health take a lead...

Between 2003 and 2008 unhealthy behaviours (like smoking, excessive alcohol intake, low fruit and vegetable consumption and low physical activity) fell significantly from around one in three adults to around one in four (ii) . However look more closely at the evidence and most of the improvements came from those in high socio-economic groups and with higher education levels. Relative inequalities have therefore increased starkly. We cannot address individual behaviours in isolation from one another and we need to target work with lower socio-economic and educational groups to also improve their health.

This draft strategy looks set to do little, if anything, to tackle rising inequalities....it also makes little mention of differing the message to different groups of people.....anyway I would urge folk to complete the survey online before 12th December....I've just come across a blog from a Glos woman re this consultation - well worth a read: http://www.halfagiraffe.co.uk/2012/10/gccs-health-and-wellbeing-campaign.html

Report is available from GUIDE & PALS and online: http://www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/healthandwellbeing

(i) From report: "Many of the wider factors that can improve health are not under the direct leadership of the Health and Wellbeing Board. Employment, crime, housing, education, and access to green space, are driven by other organisations and partnerships such as the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), the Gloucestershire Stronger, Safer, Justice Commission (GSSJC), the Local Nature Partnership (LNP) and our six District/Borough Councils and schools. For these wider issues, the role of the Board will be to work with partners to help them to identify the role that they can play in improving health and wellbeing and reducing health inequalities. The Health and Wellbeing Board will focus its direct efforts on improving healthy behaviours and access to effective, integrated services."

(ii) ‘Clustering of unhealthy behaviours over time: implications for policy and practice', a Kings Fund report: http://www.kingsfund.org.uk/publications/clustering-unhealthy-behaviours-over-time

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