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What is Public Health?

Public Health is about helping people to stay healthy, through avoiding threats to health, and promoting health and wellbeing. As such, it's a central part of our core purpose as a council, Improving People's Lives.

Use this page to find out more about the broad aims of our Public Health and Prevention team, and the ways we're working to support professionals and individuals to achieve better health and greater wellbeing in settings such as homes, schools, workplaces, communities, the NHS, and the voluntary and community sector.

Public health is “the science and art of promoting and protecting health and wellbeing, preventing ill-health and prolonging life through the organised efforts of society”. It involves working with partner organisations and the public and focuses on four main themes:

  • improving health (such as work to reduce smoking)
  • health protection (such as managing outbreaks of infectious diseases, or maximising uptake of vaccines)
  • healthcare public health (which includes understanding the issues facing local populations, and helping to plan effective, high quality services in response)
  • reducing inequalities (which includes using policy and interventions to support a fairer society and good health for all)

Our role in Public Health

Nationally, there are two main public health organisations: the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID). Tackling inequality is a central concern for public health. This means breaking the link between someone's background and their prospects for a healthy life. 

As your local council, we're in a unique position to influence people’s health. We make all kinds of decisions about things that will have big impacts on our residents' physical and mental health, such as:

  • planning
  • licensing
  • transport
  • cultural activities
  • housing
  • social care

We also collaborate with local communities on a regular basis and understand the needs of the local area. So, we're uniquely placed to make strategic decisions and deliver co-ordinated services that have a positive impact on everyone's health.  

Our team works to ensure that individuals and communities lead healthier and fairer lives, and local places and organisations enable them to do so. We make a positive impact in the following ways:

  • providing evidence-based information
  • leading and influencing strategies and programmes
  • commissioning a wide range of services
  • co-ordinating the delivery of services
  • co-ordinating public health campaigns
  • creating and co-ordinating health emergency plans

You can read in more detail about the activities of our team and its impact in the Report from the Director of Public Health, on our Public Health policies, strategies and reports page. 

There are four outcomes for the population that our Public Health team are currently working towards.

Providing the right places and circumstances which enable good health

This means working with colleagues who are leading on providing good housing, access to green space and active travel, as well as giving people opportunities to escape poverty by supporting the local economy, and programmes offering skills, education and job training.

Providing the foundations of good health for babies, children and young people

This means delivering and influencing programmes and policies, and commissioning fair and supportive services, to promote and support children and young people's health, wellbeing, and resilience, as well as reducing the inequalities they face.

Supporting people to feel in charge of their physical and mental health and lead healthier lives

This means providing the right type of support and services to enable people to make healthy choices around areas like sexual health, physical activity, eating and mental wellbeing.

Protecting individuals and communities from harm

This area has two main strands:

  • Working to reduce the physical and social harm from smoking, alcohol or drug dependency
  • Having co-ordinated planning and systems in place to respond quickly and effectively to external threats, such as major emergencies or large-scale disease outbreaks

The Health and Wellbeing Board's 7 Year Plan

The Health and Wellbeing Board's Health and Wellbeing Strategy is a seven year plan, setting out how we aim to put in place the best conditions for people of all ages to live healthy and fulfilling lives. We have set out four priorities that will improve the health and wellbeing of all residents and reduce health inequalities.

View our Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy

How to use our Public Health website

If you're a professional or community organisation

Protecting the health of others, and promoting better wellbeing, are a significant part of a wide range of professional roles. We aim to provide a clearly signposted, simple-to-use set of resources, designed to make it easier for you to achieve the outcomes you need. Dedicated sections on training and campaign resources pull together everything you need brush up your knowledge or drive initiatives to promote behaviour change for individuals and communities that you work with. You can access campaign material and resources by health or lifestyle topic, or go straight to the items which are likely to be of special concern for the setting you work in.

You can also sign up for a variety of newsletters, to ensure that you're always up-to-date with best practice and the latest news in your area of specialist interest. Or read our strategies, policies and reports, to get a better understanding of the data and context that drives our strategic planning and collaboration with other parts of the council, and partner organisations.

View pages for professionals and community organisations

If you're an individual, looking for help with your own health and wellbeing

We recognise that physical health, mental wellbeing, and social welfare all go hand-in-hand. Whatever your circumstances, we want to support you to feel you can take charge of your health and wellbeing. We've brought together tools and links to local organisations to help you do just that.

Your part of our website includes help to engage with medical and social support services, both online and face-to-face. You can also find information, advice and links to sources of help for particular issues, or barriers to living a healthier and happier life. Most pages are split into sections, designed to fit your purpose:

  • Find out more: Accessing information about a topic
  • Self-help: Tools such as quizzes and smartphone apps, to help you to assess your health or lifestyle and put changes in place if necessary
  • Get support: Links to organisations or contacts, generally in our area, who can offer practical help to get you started on a path to change

Throughout, we offer links to other council services, or partner organisations, who may have help that you're entitled to.

Get support for your own health and wellbeing