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Population Health and Wellbeing

Photograph of teachers, HSC staff and school children painting.

This page provides information on health and wellbeing which are integral to the delivery of sustainable health and social care.

In general, the health of the Northern Ireland public has been improving over time.

Social, economic, environmental and health improvements have meant that people are living longer than before. Advances in treatment and care have also meant that chronic conditions can be managed differently with the aim of securing a better quality of life for longer.

However, not everyone has a fair chance of experiencing good health – people in different social circumstances experience different levels of health –  and with an increase in obesity and smoking related illnesses, misuse of alcohol and drugs and the large number of deaths to preventable illnesses each year, we have a duty to improve health and wellbeing and reduce inequalities in health in our population, These issues have a significant impact not just on overall health but also  the costs of care.

Health and wellbeing, and people’s choices about their health are affected by a whole range of influences, therefore progress in improving health and reducing inequalities in health needs long term sustained and collective action involving all of society.

Making Life Better 2013-2023, the Executive’s strategic framework for public health, provides direction for policies and actions to make this happen. It builds on the former public health strategy “Investing for Health” and takes account of public consultation on the draft framework “Fit and Well – Changing Lives,” and a number of other key reports and evidence. The approach focuses on working collaboratively across government and with the public, community, voluntary and other sectors to create the conditions for individuals, families and communities to take greater control over their lives and be enabled and supported to lead healthy lives.

The Health and Social Care sector as a whole has a crucial role to play.

Increasing the emphasis on prevention and early intervention in the commissioning and delivery of services, and developing appropriate, targeted services, information and advice for those who may need additional support will be vitally important.

It is also crucial that the HSC works in partnership cross-sectorally, and with local communities themselves, to act together on the wider issues and conditions which affect people’s choices and support systems.

This emphasis on preventing poor health, promoting healthy living and helping people stay well is vital to improving health overall, and to reducing health inequalities, but also to the sustainability of the HSC into the future

Making Life Better therefore enhances and reinforces the direction of Transforming Your Care (December 2011), which clearly set out the current and future challenges to the health system and argued strongly the case for change.

Need for Change

To enable greater investment in prevention and promotion of health and wellbeing to happen, services need to change at a scale that enables funding to be released from inpatient hospital services for reinvestment into public health, primary and community services.

Simply re-providing acute care elsewhere is not sufficient. It would not fundamentally improve the health and wellbeing of people in Northern Ireland.

Image explaining increasing pressure on HSC

Instead, work in this area will seek to transform the health and wellbeing of people by promoting good health decisions, preventing ill health, minimising the impact of ill health when it does occur and enabling people to live healthily and independently for as long as possible.

The new approach will bring services closer to people at home and in the community and to reduce the dependence on hospital care.

In addition to Transforming Your Care, which focuses on Health and Social Care, Northern Ireland now has a clear overarching strategic direction for public health through Making Life Better 2013-2023 which brings together all relevant agencies to help improve health and reduce health inequalities at both a regional and local level.

Examples of work being done to progress this work will be added here in due course.

DHSSPS: http://www.dhsspsni.gov.uk/
Making Life Better – A Whole System Strategic Framework for Public Health 2013-2023: http://www.dhsspsni.gov.uk/mlb-strategic-framework-2013-2023.pdf
DHSSPS Public Health:
Public Health Agency: http://www.publichealth.hscni.net/



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