The NHS Five Year Forward View outlines the dramatic changes required to meet the challenges of an ageing population with an increasing amount of comorbidity. It emphasises the need to radically upgrade our skills in prevention and the promotion of wellbeing rather than simply responding to presentations of ill health. In response to this call, the Health Education England’s north west London public health steering group was established to support the training required to achieve this.
Since its inception in 2016, the steering group has funded twenty innovative projects across a range of health care, voluntary and local authority funded organisations, which support the goals of the north west London Sustainability and Transformation Plan, which is to radically upgrade prevention and wellbeing.
Transforming the workforce to focus on prevention
We are investing in the training required to enable the health and social care workforce transition from one that responds to disease and health needs to one that proactively prevents ill health through strategies such as Making Every Contact Count (MECC).
Utilising the whole wider public health workforce
From health care support workers to school teachers, we are supporting projects that work across organisational and professional boundaries to identify the individuals best placed to promote health and wellbeing, whatever their professional background. Two of our projects aim to embed these skills at an undergraduate level amongst medical, physiotherapy and occupational therapy trainees.
From pregnancy to old age: targeting different stages of the life course
Taking a life course approach to health we have supported a range of projects that target different stages of the life course. The ‘wrap around pregnancy, perinatal and early years pharmacy-based care’ and the ‘holistic tobacco control in pregnancy project’ both support women to make healthy choices that affect both them and their child. Two oral health projects, based in Harrow and Ealing, encourage early years practitioners to support the oral health of very young children, while the ‘Harrow Health in Schools’ project aims to support the physical and mental health of older children.
Supporting primary prevention of disease and management of existing condition
As well as engaging in primary prevention to reduce the prevalence of risk factors for disease, such as smoking, we are also supporting projects that enable patients and their support staff to optimally manage chronic conditions such as diabetes.
Early intervention around mental health and social isolation
We have focused on the need for early identification and support of people living with mental health needs by supporting projects which provide support to children who are at risk of mental illness, and providing training to schools and community groups on how to identify people who may need support.
Improving the physical health of people living with mental health needs
People with mental health needs are often at high risk of physical ill health that can be overlooked. We have supported programmes across two trusts to enable staff working with people with mental health needs to promote health amongst service users.
A focus on sexual and reproductive health
Tackling sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancy is a public health priority across London. We have supported projects that aim to increase the capacity of primary care to tackle this need.
Through our work we have also identified a number of dedicated teams and individuals who are working across professional and organisational boundaries to promote the public’s health across north west London, who we have supported to connect with each and share best practice across the locality.
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