CFOA Summer Conference – Public Health and Partnerships

Public Health approaches

Michael Brodie of Public Health England (PHE) talked first about the reform of UK Public Health system. Michael outlined the structure of PHE and the broad range of work that it undertakes. His interesting presentation on the showed that health is more than healthcare, and the potential impacts on mortality that choices such as smoking, eating unhealthily and taking exercise can have. Michael discussed the challenges faced in trying to address premature mortality, the impact of social drivers such as health inequality related to deprivation, and the need to think about prevention activity.

PHE has published a document ‘From evidence into action: opportunities to protect and improve the nation’s health’, which set out seven priority areas where a significant difference can be made to health in the coming 5-10 years. He said that this needs a joined-up approach, with organisations working together on prevention. Steps toward improving health include applying new techniques on behavioural change, using digital media, and working with local agency assets so communities can develop holistic solutions to local health problems. Michael welcomed the opportunity to work with fire services towards better engagement.

Partnerships for Prevention

Warren Heppolette, Strategic Director, Health & Social Care Reform, Greater Manchester, talked about Partnerships for Prevention. He discussed the assets and opportunities available in Greater Manchester – they have 350K volunteers and 30K voluntary organisations – but the challenges that they face,which include 112K people on long term sick/inactive and a growing ageing population.

Warren believes that there are a number of things we can do together to make a difference to people’s lives. With the roots of poor health found across society he said that we need to do more than just respond at the point of crisis, requiring integration of not just health and care, but of contributing wider public services. He suggested that we need to be proactive, with investment towards early care and early help, and to move away from a crisis response towards a prevention approach. Warren highlighted the overlaps in the target populations who are vulnerable and at risk, both from fire and from health issues – showing a considerable joint agenda. He said that we are stopping viewing organisations in terms of their traditional roles, and seeing new ways of working together in public service. Practically, this leads to opportunities where fire services and health can work together at a local level, sharing information to create a view of vulnerability across communities – enabling targeted interventions, whole-family approaches, and coordinated support to improve outcomes.

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