Buckinghamshire CC has delivered a comprehensive physical activity strategy with an ambitious community engagement component to increase opportunities for sustainable physical activity in each of its 19 local areas. It used residents’ views, locality needs assessments and evidence of what works to identify a shortlist of suitable opportunities. Local councillor-led forums chose activities to be commissioned against an indicative budget. Local volunteers have also been recruited as champions. Providers made the first session free for 2,500 activities in addition to those commissioned by the council. The programme is supported and promoted by partners and local media.
Studies suggest up to 40% of old people might be depressed but only one in 12 are appropriately identified and treated. These people are more likely to require residential care than people without depression. This project addressed these low levels of identification and treatment of depression in old people by using the existing adult social care workforce and GPs to screen for depression as part of their assessment and review. This was linked to referral to GPs and development of social prescribing schemes. Nearly 6,000 old people were screened in the first full year of the project.
Gateshead Council’s fight against obesity was the first in the UK to go beyond traditional planning considerations and tackle health issues head on. It developed a hot food takeaway supplementary planning document, based on research, to justify criteria based purely on health. This allowed the council to limit the proliferation of hot food takeaways selling unhealthy foods and actively encourage those selling healthier options.
On joining Kirklees Council, the public health team seized new opportunities to ensure strategic recognition of the impact on health of the physical, social and economic environments, including the potential to decrease inequalities. Through transformational system change and joined-up working the council is now a health-promoting organisation with wellbeing and resilience at its core. This is evident in actions and outcomes. Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England, observed after visiting Kirklees: “I have been to many places… but none where the relationship between economic prosperity and good health is so transparently understood.”
Newcastle City Council
Newcastle’s Wellbeing for Life strategy identifies the themes of becoming a fair city, an age-friendly city, an inclusive city: a city of healthy lifestyles that is sustainable for the future. A key principle is the concept of progressive universalism, whereby it aims to improve the health of all the population but of the most disadvantaged fastest. It has invested nearly £2m per year from the public health grant in parks and leisure services while developing a broader vision of what those services should achieve; embedded public health thinking into planning and transport services; and partnered with the clinical commissioning group on prevention.
Developed by the Essex Food Liaison Group, a partnership of all environmental health food control teams led by Tendring DC, TuckIN helps independent food businesses facilitate healthier lifestyle choices for their customers. The concept is simple, flexible and inclusive. It educates food businesses to make changes in ingredients and cooking techniques that reduce salt, fat, sugar and calories without alienating its current customer base and through this to make a positive impact on the health of its community. Businesses’ cost savings and better public health outcomes are the win-win benefits of the TuckIN project.
Tower Hamlets LBC
Tower Hamlets’ public health team has focused on ensuring that planning contributions paid by developers to offset adverse impacts of building developments is maximised and used in an evidence-based way to maximise health gain and reduce health inequalities. Working with the council’s planning team, the service has used the bespoke Tower Hamlets Population Growth model as a basis for assessing need and location for investment to improve health of residents. It has invested both in healthcare facilities and green spaces. The public health team has been working closely with adult social care and the parks department.
Wakefield is tackling significant public health challenges by transforming the way it commissions and prioritises its services, delivering better health and wellbeing outcomes for residents. As a result, smoking during pregnancy fell by 6% between 2011 and 2016, and smoking among Year 9 children has more than halved; teenage pregnancies have fallen by nearly 60% between 2007 and 2014; and more than 70% of adults who have taken part in Wakefield’s specialist fitness programme have lost weight. In addition, some of its behaviour change work is now used as examples of national best practice.
Wigan MBC believes that everyone has the right to live a long and healthy life and by 2020 it wants to make this a reality. The council is doing so by integrating public health into all its services, working with partners to create strategies focusing on making health everyone’s business. Its approach includes work to improve infection control in care homes, nurseries and early years service providers; large-scale adults’ and children’s weight loss programmes; recommissioning drug and alcohol abuse services; and running a borough-wide cardiovascular programme.
Wolverhampton City Council
Two years ago, Wolverhampton City Council and its key partners took the bold step to focus on three public health priorities: smoking, obesity and alcohol misuse. The strategy is entirely evidence-based and reflects a recognition that a ‘scattergun’ approach, where authorities attempt to tackle
every public health issue, is not effective. The mantra now is to do a few things and do them well – recognising, for example, that driving improvement in physical health can have knock-on benefits for mental health and wellbeing.
300 NICE logo
A word from the award’s sponsor
It is important for councils to show a return on the resources they invest in public health. Applying evidence-based solutions, such as NICE guidance, to reducing health inequalities and improving health can deliver significant social and economic benefits over the long term. We hope the innovative councils shortlisted for this award will inspire others in their work to improve the health and wellbeing of their communities.
Phil Boorman, senior external communications manager, NICE
David Buck, senior fellow, King’s Fund
Annie Coppel, implementation consultant, NICE
Dominic Harrison, director of public health, Blackburn with Darwen BC
Jane Moore, director of public health, Coventry City Council
Shaun Scrutton, managing director, Rochford DC