Protecting Health: A Hidden Agenda

DPH Annual Report 2014_front pageThe Director of Public Health Annual Report for 2014 has been released. The Director of Public Health Annual Report is a vehicle for informing local people about the health of their community, as well as providing necessary information for decision makers in local health services and authorities on health gaps and priorities that need to be addressed. The title of this report “Protecting Health – A Hidden Agenda” reflects the fact that a great deal of health protection work can be unseen and taken for granted. All of the work that goes into planning for emergencies, preventing and managing outbreaks, and ensuring screening and immunisation programmes are running well, tends to be out of the sight of the populations we serve. We no longer see some of the most dangerous communicable diseases because of our successful childhood vaccination programmes. We may not experience any symptoms, but screening programmes are there to support the detection of illnesses which can be treated more easily if picked up earlier. We may not appreciate when we buy food from a shop or outlet that there are professionals working to ensure it is safe and of high quality. It is hoped that this report, although it does not pick up on all the health protection work which is being undertaken, does highlight key areas of importance. A range of references were used to compile this year’s report including:

  • Health Protection Agency
  • British Medical Journals
  • Public Health England
  • Department of Energy and Climate Change
  • Office for National Statistics

This year’s report is now available for download This year, I am keen to gain your views and opinions on my annual report. If you would like to comment or give feedback, please do so by filling out our short survey or by emailing publichealthintelligence@warwickshire.gov.uk

Local Information System update

LIS_educational attainmentIn recent years, increasing importance has been placed on the value of information in local government. The 2006 Local Government White Paper highlighted the important role that local information systems can play in improving decision making and targeting service delivery.

Warwickshire has developed a Local Information System (LIS) using Instant Atlas software that allows users to view local data on interactive reports in the form of maps, charts and tables. The LIS provides data on a range of different demographic, economic and health indicators. This information being publicly available provides a greater degree of transparency on how decisions are made in local government.

The website acts a repository for all Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) related material in Warwickshire and includes:

  • Summaries of each topic
  • Detailed Needs Assessments
  • Access to all the underlying data via the LIS

There are a total of 10 reports now available:

The Environment and Health Atlas for England and Wales

The Environmental and Health Atlas for England and Wales, produced by the Small Area Health Statistics Unit, provides interactive maps of geographical variations for a range of health conditions and environmental agents at a neighbourhood (small-area) scale in England and Wales.

Environment and Health Atlas for England and Wales 1The maps are a resource for those working in public health and public health policy and for the general public to better understand the geographic distribution of environmental agents and health conditions*. The atlas provides information about risks and concentrations for areas; however, risks and exposures for individuals living in those areas may differ.

There are fourteen health conditions mapped at census ward level (average population 6,000) which show the relative risks averaged over a 25 year period (1985-2009, where possible) and can be presented separately for males and females. Some of the health conditions include: lung cancer, breast cancer, heart disease, COPD, still births and low birth weight.

There are seven environmental agents presented which also detail potential health outcomes these may have on an individual.

Environment and Health Atlas for England and Wales 2*Please note that simple comparisons of mapped health conditions and environmental agents cannot be used to indicate casual associations as further information would be required (for example family history and current medical conditions).

For the purpose of analysis, it is important to note however that the majority of indicators are based on relatively small numbers with only subtle variations in most instances which are within the limits of statistical uncertainty.

In line with our understanding of health inequalities in Warwickshire, the Atlas highlights a clear north-south divide pattern in terms of Coronary Heart Disease with relative risks generally higher in the northern areas of the County. In terms of Skin Cancer, this pattern is reversed with higher relative risks generally found in South Warwickshire.

Child Health Profiles

Child Health ProfilesThe Public Health Intelligence Team has created Child Health Profiles following the release of the 2014 Child Health Profiles by Public Health England (PHE). The data is displayed at District/Borough and CCG level where possible. The profiles are based on five themes including: premature mortality, health protection, wider determinants of health, health improvement and prevention of ill health. The profiles have shown that in Warwickshire, performances are generally better than both the West Midlands and England averages. Highlights include:

  • The proportion of children living in poverty in Warwickshire is 14.1%, compared to 23.2% in the West Midlands and 20.6% nationally
  • Levels of childhood obesity are lower in Warwickshire than nationally, at 8.1% of children aged 4-5 years and 16.5% of children aged 10-11 years

There are some areas, however, where performance in Warwickshire is more mixed including:

  • Infant and child mortality rates are similar to the England average
  • In Warwickshire 17.6% of mothers are smoking at the time of delivery, which is above the England average of 12.7%

Click here to see the Warwickshire data. PHE’s National Child and Maternal (ChiMat) Health Intelligence Network’s website also provides interactive maps and charts. For more information and the full report visit http://www.chimat.org.uk/profiles

Warwickshire Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) Annual Update 2012/13

Warwickshire Joint Strategic Needs Assessment_front pageA 2012/13 Annual Update on Warwickshire’s JSNA was produced in May 2013.  This aims to provide commissioners and other parties interested in Warwickshire’s health and wellbeing with:

a) A summary of the County’s approach to the JSNA process.

b) An update on the latest analysis and interpretation of need.

c) Key messages from that information that our target audience should hear.

The purpose of the Warwickshire JSNA is to provide a consensus view on the current and future health and wellbeing needs and inequalities of the local population.

In order to supplement this Annual Update, further analysis has also been carried out at a District/Borough level, and localised versions of the report have been produced to support and inform the work of the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and the District and Borough Councils.  These reports provide an update to the ‘Mini JSNAs’ which were produced last year.

Key messages from the analysis include persistent inequalities across different geographical areas and population groups, notable variation in lifestyle characteristics, coupled with significant demographic change and increasing dependency ratios.

The Annual JSNA Updates for the County and each of the Districts and Boroughs are available on the Warwickshire JSNA website: www.warwickshire.gov.uk/jsna

Learning from the Past, Planning for the Future

Public Health 2013 coverThe Public Health Intelligence Team has been working extremely hard since April this year to produce the 2013 Director of Public Health Annual Report entitled ‘Learning from the Past, Planning for the Future’ which was presented to the County Council Cabinet on 12th of September.

The theme of this year’s report is a reflection on some of the longer term trends in health over time and the types of action we can take now to promote and protect the health of people in Warwickshire in the future.

With the responsibility of public health moving into local government, this presents a real opportunity to tackle these issues through a more collaborative approach. The report is a vehicle for informing local people about the health of their community, as well as providing the necessary information for decision makers in local health services and authorities on health gaps and priorities that need to be addressed.

Whilst the health of Warwickshire is generally better than England, there are some stark reminders that Warwickshire still requires improvement, such as:

  • 1,600 children are estimated to have started smoking in Warwickshire last year
  • 1 in 5 mothers are estimated to be smoking at the time of delivery which increases the risk of infant mortality by an estimated 40%
  • 68% of parents who smoke admit to doing so in the car with their children present
  • Life expectancy is 2.9 years lower for men and 1.3 years lower for women in the north of the County than those in the south
  • Cancer causes the largest proportion of deaths in Warwickshire (1,412 deaths, 28.5% of all deaths). It is estimated that up to half of all cancers could be prevented by changes in lifestyle behaviours

The report can be downloaded here.

This year, Dr John Linnane is keen to gain views on his annual report. If you would like to comment or give some feedback, please do so by filling out the short survey: www.surveymonkey.com/s/publichealthwarwickshire