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Director of Public Health's Annual Report (2012)

We are on the cusp of the most significant change for public health for 40 years but the only test that really matters is whether this new system can produce better health and wellbeing for our population. How will we deliver significant improvements in health, wellbeing and happiness that matter to local people? How will we tackle the ongoing unfairness of inequalities in our society?

From April 2013, the majority of local public health functions will transfer from the NHS to our two local authorities – Cornwall Council and the Council of the Isles of Scilly. This creates a fantastic opportunity for prevention to be further embedded in a wide range of key services like education, planning and transportation and the care of more vulnerable people including children and those in older age.

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The good news is we already have good links and partnerships in place across many key policy areas like reducing harm from tobacco and alcohol, tackling obesity and improving mental health and wellbeing, as well as tackling local inequalities in health. We hope the specialist skills of public health colleagues will prove a helpful resource for Council members and staff already working to support local communities. It also provides an opportunity for taking forward two or three priority interventions on a large scale, working with partners and local people, using Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly as a test bed for innovation.

The key elements of support we want to bring are around understanding the evidence base when designing services, good analysis of population needs and changes in outcomes and most importantly seeing the needs of different population groups and targeting support where it is needed most. That is the challenge that has been set down by the Government in its vision for a better public health service with local authorities taking the lead and one that each Director of Public Health is expected to deliver on.

We will also work to link up with the other parts of the public health system – the NHS Commissioning Board, Public Health England and Kernow Clinical commissioning groups as well as continuing to be a key link into health services.

We must make the best use of resources, build services around the needs of the public and make sure local people are getting the quality of support they deserve.

When looking at health and wellbeing it is important to think about the possibilities and not just the challenges we face. The change in public mood during the recent Olympics was inspiring. A nation focused on achievement and positive news was a welcome contrast to the usual stories of public disagreement and conflict. As the first host to the Olympic Flame we felt that possibility before anywhere else in the UK and it was kept alive through some great local achievements in the Olympic and Paralympic Games that followed.

If we can start from common values that can be a powerful driver of change. That doesn’t have to be about the superhuman effort of winning a gold medal but can be about a lonely neighbour who needs help or creating opportunities for families to have fun and be active in the open air.

This report has deliberately been built around the new Public Health Outcomes Framework which sets out a number of important measures across different life stages and areas of need or opportunity. We will use this framework as a benchmark for progress and complement it with our contribution to the delivery of the new Health and Wellbeing Strategies for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. We must also be sure that the voice of local communities is heard and responded to especially for those who are seldom heard but may be suffering from the poorest outcomes.

I want the new public health service to build on the achievements of recent years, reach into new opportunities for better health and wellbeing and be all about positive change. I look forward to working with you all in this new system for the benefit of our local residents.

Felicity Owen Director of Public Health

Cornwall Council Council for the Isles of Scilly NHS Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly

Please use the links on the left hand side of this page to view the full report.