County health plan for the public

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WORK has begun to develop a Public Health Plan for West Sussex, involving councils, the NHS and the voluntary sector.

Organisations met at an event to look at developing the plan, and to explore what it might mean for local people.

As part of the Government’s proposed reforms to the NHS, responsibility for Public Health will transfer from NHS West Sussex to West Sussex County Council by 2013, and so this is a timely development to bring the NHS and local authorities closer together.

West Sussex already has a Director of Public Health and Wellbeing working jointly across NHS West Sussex and West Sussex County Council, partnership work is increasing with the introduction of the new Health and Wellbeing Hubs across the county, and the creation of the county’s Health and Wellbeing Board including representatives from the county council and local NHS.

West Sussex County Council leader Louise Goldsmith said: “Working to improve public health in West Sussex is something that involves everyone, local councils, the NHS, the voluntary sector and our local communities.

“Public health is very important, but is something that no one organisation can tackle alone. It’s something we all need to get involved with to encourage healthier lifestyles and living.”

Initial work is taking place under different themes including carers, alcohol, emotional wellbeing, ready for school, and ageing population.

It’s planned to have a draft West Sussex Public Health Plan ready for the autumn, with the final version signed off towards the end of the year. The newly established Health and Wellbeing Board will lead on following progress of the Plan and monitoring its implementation.

Building on work that’s already taken place, the Plan will:

Set the framework for public health, and the role of local authorities as leaders of public health.

Seek to improve health and wellbeing in West Sussex in line with local priorities.

Establish local health outcomes in order to reduce health inequalities.

Establish a new approach to influence all parts of making health choices.

Judith Wright, West Sussex Director of Public Health and Wellbeing, said: “Public health is everyone’s business and involves the efforts of a number of different agencies, communities and individuals.

“It is important that we focus those efforts to achieve the kind of real improvements in people’s health that we want in West Sussex.

“The event was all about us coming together to agree what we need to focus on and how we can make a difference to the lives of our residents. It was a really positive day.”