Ian and Corinne form part of a group which includes other public health specialists and health care professionals working together to prevent ill health across our area. The group’s work cuts across many of our West Yorkshire and Harrogate priorities including cancer, stroke and digital ways of working. You can watch this short film to find out more about the work they are doing.

Hello and welcome to our first blog for West Yorkshire and Harrogate (WY&H) Health and Care Partnership.

Preventing ill health is at the heart of our partnership and a theme that runs through all our local place plans and West Yorkshire and Harrogate priorities. This is because we know that many causes of ill health and early death are preventable and that life chances are also shaped in your early years of life. You don’t need to look far to see evidence of this in the work of Professor John Wright and the health research from Born in Bradford, which is one of the largest research studies in the world to find out what influences the health and wellbeing of families. This includes using data from pre-pregnancy to early childhood, which helps us to understand what can work in tackling health inequalities. For example, the correlation between foetal growth, and how well a child does in their early school years and childhood obesity.

The wider environment, e.g. green spaces, air pollution and how we design our towns and cities, also has an important impact on our health & wellbeing, from mental wellbeing to conditions such as asthma. We are working with different parts of councils for example their planning and environmental services to make sure we have environments that improve the health of everyone.

A person’s housing situation can also present a real risk to health and wellbeing. Both physical and mental health can be affected by living in a cold damp house, or by low household income. And, of course, people who are homeless are some of the most vulnerable in our communities The right home environment is essential to delivering our plans, such as helping to keep people independent, preventing avoidable hospital admissions and supporting timely discharge.

You may have also heard recently that around 70% of people born between the early 1980s and mid-1990s are on course to be overweight or obese between the ages of 35 and 44 - before they hit middle age - according to Cancer Research UK. And also an estimated 50% to 80% of Cardio-vascular disease (CVD) cases are caused by preventable risk factors, such as smoking, harmful drinking, poor diet and physical inactivity. CVD is one of the conditions affecting people across our area that is most strongly associated with health inequalities. As a result, premature death rates from CVD in the most deprived 10% of people are almost twice as high as rates in the least deprived 10%. These are all issues we very clearly want to address.

Cancer is the biggest cause of death of any illness for every age group in West Yorkshire and Harrogate; it is expected to affect one in every two people born since 1960. There are currently more than 330,000 smokers in the area, and lung cancer is the most common cancer affecting local people. We want to see a reduction of 125,000 smokers. Recent figures show we are making progress: there were 23,300 fewer people smoking in 2015/2016.

So what are we doing to tackle this important area of work?

We have four key areas of work under way at the moment. These are focused on tobacco harm, reducing alcohol-related admissions to hospitals; obesity and the associated risk of diabetes; and making sure that every contact with a health professional counts for prevention and ensuring we have health promoting hospitals. We know we want health and care professionals to help us get well when we are ill. But we also want professionals, including community health care services and hospital staff, to do as much as possible to help prevent ill health. Alongside increasing those skills we need a changed relationship with the public, built on trust and empowerment, where the benefits of self-care, early help and preventing ill health can flourish.

Our success relies on our health care colleagues. Clinical leadership and engagement across all of the prevention agenda is especially important. This will be helped by making sure we have good links to the West Yorkshire & Harrogate Clinical Forum.

According to estimates from Public Health England, two thirds of adults and a quarter of children between two and 10 years old are overweight or obese. Obese children are more likely to become overweight adults and to suffer premature ill health and mortality, and by 2034, 70% of adults are expected to be overweight or obese. Obesity increases the risk of health issues, including heart disease, diabetes and depression. Severely obese people are three times more likely to require social care than those with a normal weight, resulting in increased risk of hospitalisation.

There are 226,000 people at risk of diabetes in West Yorkshire and Harrogate. Our aspiration is that through the National Diabetes Prevention Programme, 50% of these people will be offered diabetes prevention support by 2021. We know that such support can lead to a significant number of those at high risk actually not becoming a diabetic – and having a healthier life in the future. From the 16-22 April, NHS England will be promoting a diabetes prevention programme awareness week. Toolkits for GP practices, community organisations etc. are now available to download so that you can encourage and promote the support available.

We continually look for opportunities to prevent people becoming ill; working together to understand what has a major impact on people’s lives, including child poverty. The right support at the right time will lead to people making informed lifestyle choices and feeling more in control of their life – and having a healthier life in the future.

Have a good weekend

Ian and Corrine

What else has been happening this week?

Rob and Ian took part in a round table event at The Kings Fund with Professor Don Berwick to discuss what would it take to develop self-governing systems on Monday.

Local place planners (Bradford District & Craven; Calderdale, Harrogate, Kirklees, Leeds, Wakefield) met on Tuesday.

The memorandum of understanding (MoU) editorial group met on Wednesday

The WY&H Local Maternity System Programme Board met on Thursday

What’s happening next week?

There is a meeting of the Standardisation of Commissioning Policies workstream on 21 March 2018.

The WY&H Estates Strategy Stakeholder Workshop is taking place on 21 March 2018.

Rob Webster and Ian Holmes will be attending a development session for members of the Kirklees Health and Wellbeing Board on 22 March 2018.

Amanda Bloor and Ian Holmes are attending a meeting of the North Yorkshire Health and Wellbeing Board on 23 March 2018.

The WY&H STP Finance Leaders are meeting on 23 March 2018.