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Agenda item


Public Health Annual Report 2018

Report of the Designate Director of Public Health


The Sub-Committee received a report on public health issues and activities in 2017-18 from the new Director of Public Health, Carole Furlong, who was welcomed and congratulated on her appointment.  She underlined some of the key points arising, including the following:


a)            The report sought to use more accessible ways of imparting information, in particular through the use of “infographics”, charts and diagrams.


b)            The report included ward health profiles showing the characteristics of each area in terms of geography, essential services and the people who live there.


c)            The profiles also mirrored the health and well being strategy themes of Start Well, Live Well, Work Well and Age Well, and they illustrated the  inequalities in health the Borough and some of the issues that contribute to them. 


d)            There were some areas of concern identified in the report and these included health problems affecting elderly people and disadvantaged communities. 


In discussion of the report, questions from the members of the Sub-Committee and Advisers were answered as follows:


i.              What was the direction of travel in terms of health inequality?  There was variation year on year, but the overall health inequality gap appeared not to be closing.  In particular, there was concern on the impact of poverty on health and the difficulties in accessing services. 


ii.            Had there been any unusual results in particular areas?  There were a number of interesting variations such as the impact of deprivation as between the north and south of the Borough.  Other differences included those related to housing cost and conditions, and also the levels of alcohol consumption in relatively affluent areas. 


iii.           What were the key messages for commissioners of services?  The results provided useful data for commissioners in terms of prioritising and targeting particular areas; it was hoped that this would make it easier to lever in more finding, say, in such areas as mental health and learning disabilities.  The data came from a range of sources, and therefore some was more recent than others; it included some which was modelled from 2011 Census results. 


iv.           The position in respect of dental health.  It was important to avoid the sense that this was simply an area for specialists and rather emphasise that all involved in children’s care could play a part.  An information pack had been produced with NHS England, funded from Health Education in England, and the impact would be evaluated by the health education unit at Queen Mary’s Hospital.  Work would be done with new dentists practising in the area so that messages were reinforced. 


v.            Would the implications of the prevalence of diabetes be addressed in future given that Harrow had a high proportion of residents suffering from Type 2 Diabetes?  A report would be brought forward on diabetes and this would include data from GPs and would address the communities most at risk of harm from the condition.


vi.           Were some of the trends and results related to housing tenure?  The increase in the number of children presenting at A&E could be related to housing circumstances, for example, homes where space to cook and heat food was very limited and the risk of accidents was higher.  The data available suggested that temporary accommodation could be a factor.  The reasons for presenting at A&E suggested self-harm was not a significant factor.  Councillor Dattani suggested that the Corporate Director, Community be asked to consider the issues of the relationship between housing conditions and public health.


vii.          How did the report’s data link to information available from GP practices and the CCG, and given that it provided only “raw” data, how did the findings compare with “statistical neighbour” boroughs?  At present, there was no access to GP data and the principal source was the household survey conducted as part of the Health Survey for England.  It was accepted that the data at a very local, ward level was not based on large samples and there were therefore limits to its value in informing local changes.  Instead, it pointed to broader public health issues and had been designed in such a way as to make it easier for the public to understand the data; for this reason, comparisons with statistical neighbours had been avoided since they would complicate the message.  Nevertheless, it was intended to do more work on the implications of some of findings, eg. encouraging licensing officers to use the data on gambling.


viii.        Could all the relevant data be drawn into one publicly-available resource?  While there were other datasets available, the Council did not operate a full public health information service.  There was also a risk of users being overwhelmed with the enormous amount of data involved in public health.  The Chair considered that the ward-level information would be very useful and he suggested that there would be some merit in a facility to interrogate the data online using post codes. 


It was pointed out that the maps for the Headstone North and Pinner South wards had been switched in the draft report.

RESOLVED:  That the report be noted.

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