Teesside Trust looking to the future to prevent illness and tackle health inequalities

North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust has demonstrated its commitment to the NHS Long Term Plan presenting a multi-agency population health strategy aiming to prevent illness and tackle health inequalities with the objective of extending years of life and improving the quality of those years.

At an event held at the University Hospital of North Tees North Tees the Trust invited members of the public to give their opinions on the Trusts Population Health strategy. Working with partners, the strategy looks to address the challenges faced and align health services to meet the needs of the communities served.

It has been well documented for many years about the side effects of excess weight, obesity, smoking, lack of exercise and excessive alcohol. This event explained that the purpose of Population Health is to identify areas of the region where certain diseases are known to be more prevalent so they can be targeted with health interventions, helping people make better lifestyle choices, reducing health inequalities.

Unfortunately, in the major disease categories the Tees Valley statistics do not read as well as the rest of the country. There is a higher prevalence of smoking and smoking related illness, premature deaths relating to liver disease and fatty liver disease, particularly related to alcohol abuse. There is a higher incidence of cancer than other areas of the country with later presentations and lower survival rates.

By introducing a proactive population health strategy the Trust hope to change these statistics. Dr Deepak Dwarakanath, Medical Director and Deputy Chief Executive of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust explained: “Population health is about looking at the bigger picture. In Hartlepool and Stockton life expectancy for both men and women is lower than the English average. As part of this strategy we’re looking both at people’s physical and mental health with a view to preventing illness rather than just treating it.

Mental health has been the poor neighbour of physical health for too long, Dr Dwarakanath

The NHS has been very successful over our 70 years reducing ill health burdens, but it’s probably not been as effective at preventing illness in younger adults from a mental and physical perspective. There is a lot of work that we can do, our ultimate aim is to get to a stage where we can prevent these illnesses and not just treat them.”

Ill health not only has a negative impact on the outcomes for individuals, but can be detrimental for economic impact in other areas that can lead to unemployment, poor productivity, lower growth and fewer jobs for a particular area which is why it is so important for a joined up partner approach.

North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust has pledged to continue to take a multi-agency approach to develop plans, collaborating with partners to understand the unique needs of the population and align services to meet those needs.

Dr Dwarakanath heralded a warning to delegates “we must improve the quality of life for the population of Teesside and surrounding areas. Living until 99 with 20 final years of bad health is not acceptable, we must be more aspirant as a region”.

North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust will later this year appoint one of only three consultant posts working across the whole of the North East as well as a population health trainee both with the aim to improve the delivery of the Trusts population health agenda.

If you are interested influencing healthcare delivery North Tees and Hartlepool you can join North Tees and Hartlepool Foundation Trust as a member by emailing membership@nth.nhs.uk

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