Agenda item

Public Health Annual Report 2019 – Creative Communities


Julie Webster, Director for Health and Wellbeing introduced the Public Health Annual Report (PHAR) 2019, an independent annual report, and a statutory requirement. The PHAR had been considered by Cabinet at its meeting held on 30 September 2019 (minute 32 refers) and by Council at its meeting held on 14 October 2019 (minute 71 refers). The report informed that engaging with cultural activities had several positive benefits; it helped people to recover from illness, both physical and mental and helped preventing illness and keeping people well.


The 2019 Report, Creative Communities, explored the role of culture as a means of improving health and wellbeing, presented local examples of those bene?ts and called for everyone in Wirral to be part of a Borough of Culture legacy that left people happier and healthier.


The Adult care and Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee noted that the PHAR was an important vehicle to identify key issues, flag up problems, report progress and inform local inter agency action. The purpose of the PHAR was to draw attention to local issues of importance which had an impact on population health. Since the Council took back responsibility for Public Health in 2013 it had published five reports on:


  • Social isolation
  • Healthy schools and children
  • Domestic violence
  • The roles of the Council and NHS in promoting health and wellbeing
  • Problem gambling


The Committee was informed that these reports had led to action in the reduction of people smoking in the Borough to levels below the national average; increased support for people who were feeling socially isolated plus significant activity across a range of partners to highlight and reduce the damage caused to local communities from alcohol abuse and gambling.


The 2019 Report sought to influence the developing narrative around social prescribing and how the Council engaged and worked with local people to support them to live healthier lives.


The Director for Health and Wellbeing informed Members of the strong relationship held between the Council and grass root organisations such as Age UK and Open Door and explained how Wirral’s tenure as ‘Borough of Culture’ had played a significant role as part of, and integral to, healthcare of residents.


A Member commented that in terms of public health she had been surprised that engagement in cultural activities had been the focus of this year’s annual report, and felt there should be more focus on poverty, housing, and age/health inequalities – all of which were significant issues that needed to be addressed and reported.


The Chair highlighted that there didn’t appear to be any reference to fuel / food poverty, and although not dismissing report, because there were benefits evident, she felt the annual report needed to report on and address such key issues as a priority.


A short discussion took place, with Members expressing views on such matters as a more ‘back to basics’ public health report – covering obesity, alcohol, housing, dental care, and vaccinations – with supporting data to be provided. Other issues raised by Members included monitoring levels of air pollution, indices of deprivation, cancer, and general life expectancy based upon where people lived.


The Director for Health and Wellbeing agreed that there was a clear demand from the Overview and Scrutiny Committee to understand the issues affecting Wirral’s health and that she would come back to the Committee with more specific and regular reporting on key areas of concern e.g. housing and food poverty.


The Chair thanked the Director for Health and Wellbeing for her report.


Resolved – That the report be noted.

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