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Securing the health of our future

Published
20.02.2018

A new report has identified a need for a joined up approach to help tackle inequalities in the health and wellbeing of children and young people in the county.

The report has been published by Gloucestershire County Council’s director of public health, Sarah Scott and sets out the ambitions for the next three years to create a better, healthier county, for all families in Gloucestershire.

In the report, Sarah outlines the county council’s ambition to bring a coordinated approach to tackling health inequalities in children so that all our children have the opportunity to thrive.

Although the county generally enjoys good health there are inequalities in health between the better off and those living in poverty which is of growing concern. Some children born into adversity struggle to break free from this cycle, which can impact on their development and future prospects.

The report also looks at trends and public health interventions in areas such as smoking in pregnancy, breastfeeding, immunisation, adverse childhood experiences, children in poverty and children receiving support from social services.

Amongst the headlines in the report are that since 2012 there has been a year on year decrease in women smoking whilst pregnant, with 9.3 per cent of women smoking now versus 14.9 percent in in 2010. The county council and partners aim to reduce this further and have set a the target to have fewer than 6 per cent of pregnant women smoking by 2022.

In 2016 over 29,000 local young people responded to the county council’s online pupil survey. The information provided helps to shape the way the county’s professionals work to support young people in the county.

The latest feedback showed that overall the picture for teenagers in the county is good, but did raise concerns over risky behaviours, such as drinking alcohol, smoking and drug taking.

The number of hospital admissions for self harm has decreased since 2013, but is still above the national rate. To help tackle this, Gloucestershire Healthy Living and Learning provide schools with training and resources to help address mental health issues as well as signposting to support through charities such as Teens in Crisis.

In 2016/17, 6,387 children were assessed as being affected by all three of the ‘toxic trio’ of domestic abuse, mental ill health and substance misuse in the home. These adverse childhood experiences often lead to issues later in life, and so addressing them early is key to helping young people achieve the best possible outcomes.

By working together across health, education and social care, those most vulnerable children in the county will be able to enjoy better outcomes now and into the future.

To help support that work over the coming years the report concludes by announcing plans for a new Children and Families Strategy for the county. With it comes a call to action for partners to put together a co-ordinated system wide approach.

Sarah Scott added: “We know we all have to do more to support the most vulnerable children in Gloucestershire and this report shows us the key issues affecting our county’s children, young people and their families at three vital stages in their lives.

“By identifying what they are, and why they are important, we are able to focus our efforts on improving outcomes for those most in need to create a better, healthier county, for all families in Gloucestershire.”

Cllr Tim Harman, cabinet member for public health at Gloucestershire County Council, said: “This report highlights some of the key challenges facing everyone working to improve the lives of children and young people.

“It shows us exactly where we need to focus our efforts.”

The report can be viewed in full on the county council’s website: https://www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/health-and-social-care/healthy-lives-healthy-communities/