Kent County Council is canvassing residents’ thoughts on a proposed new model for future public health improvement services that aims to assist them to live longer lives.
A consultation is underway to ensure that all KCC Public Health services are based around the needs of the person, encourage personal responsibility and, wherever appropriate, are delivered within integrated services.
There will be a particular focus on the health inequalities within and between communities.
KCC Public Health Director Andrew Scott-Clark explains: “The way that Public Health currently commissions means that these services work independently and each has specific outcomes to achieve.
“For example; in the smoking services, success is measured by how many people have quit smoking. An individual may need to access a number of these services if they have more than one health behaviour that they wish to change.
“The proposed model would integrate the current separate healthy weight, smoking cessation, physical activity and Health Trainer services and include elements of health checks, alcohol and sexual health services, with mental and emotional wellbeing underpinning the whole service delivery.
“This holistic approach means that the service would support the individual to address a range factors that might be affecting their lifestyle choices and barriers faced by them in changing their unhealthy behaviours.”
KCC undertook responsibility for Public Health in April 2013 and since this time has been carrying out a continuous review of the approach to delivering public health to residents of Kent.
Public Health strives to deliver effective prevention and support services to improve health outcomes. This includes:
- Healthy Weight Services support those wishing to lose weight to access the most appropriate weight management programme. These are delivered through a range of settings including community settings, GP surgeries, and pharmacies.
- Stop Smoking Services are provided in a variety of settings, including community settings, GP surgeries and pharmacies.
- The NHS Health Check programme aims to help prevent heart disease, stroke, diabetes, kidney disease and certain types of dementia. Everyone between the ages of 40 and 74, who have not already been diagnosed with one of these conditions or have certain risk factors, will be invited (once every five years) to have a health check. Health checks are delivered in GP surgeries, pharmacies and community settings.
- Health Trainers provide one-to-one support for people who want to make a behavioural change across their general lifestyle, and can support that individual around a range of health topics, such as physical activity, smoking or alcohol. The exact role depends on the needs of the community and individual, tending to work in community settings.
- Maintaining Mental Wellbeing to help tackle stigma in communities and raise awareness of support services that are available.
- Physical activity services support people, whose current level of activity puts their health at risk, to achieve a more physically active lifestyle that will improve their health outcomes in the long term.
The NHS Five Year Forward View was published in 2014 and it highlighted the need to radically increase the role of prevention to achieve improvements in health outcomes for the public, reducing health inequalities and promoting healthier lifestyles generally.
Similarly, the Care Act which became law in 2015 also emphasises the importance of prevention, in addition to, outlining key responsibilities for local authorities in addressing this.
KCC Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health, Graham Gibbens said: “Kent will join many other Local Authorities that are proposing improved service models that deliver a more integrated and holistic approach to health improvement services, with the aim of helping residents live healthier lives, with the appropriate support to make difficult lifestyle changes.”
The consultation runs until Monday 14 December 2015 and is available at www.kent.gov.uk/healthimprovement