Select Committee on Health Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by West Surrey Health Authority Health Promotion Service (PH 37)


     "Health Promotion is the process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve their health."

  World Health Organisation

  We are the lead agency for health promotion. We initiate, co-ordinate, develop and support programmes which promote and improve health and wellbeing.

  We are a specialist service within West Surrey Health Authority and part of the Directorate of Public Health. We operate from three sites as well as having a key presence at the Health Authority's headquarters in Camberley.


  Our main role is to work in partnership with organisations and communities to:

    —  Tackle root causes of ill health.
    —  Reduce inequalities in health.
    —  Build healthy public policy.
    —  Support and develop health promoting environments.
    —  Strengthen community action.
    —  Develop personal, health and social skills.


  Our activities aim to promote and improve health by:

    —  offering specialist advice and consultancy;
    —  creating and developing partnerships;
    —  developing strategies and policies;
    —  managing programmes and projects;
    —  providing training and resources.


  Our staff come from a variety of personal backgrounds, and their skills include:

    —  strategy and organisational development;
    —  programme management;
    —  community development;
    —  needs assessment and research;
    —  change management;
    —  facilitation and training;
    —  public relations and communication;
    —  outreach and advocacy;
    —  youth counselling;
    —  specialist knowledge in a variety of health and related topics.


  Our health promotion programmes reflect both national and local priorities including those in West Surrey Health Improvement Programme. (HImP). These include:

    —  coronary heart disease and stroke;
    —  cancer, inc. smoking;
    —  mental health;
    —  sexual health and HIV/AIDS, inc. teenage pregnancy;
    —  substance misuse;
    —  accident prevention.


  Our programmes target specific population groups in a range of settings and localities.

    —  primary care;
    —  neighbourhood;
    —  schools and youth settings;
    —  workplace.


  Our principles and standards include improving accessibility, acceptability and effectiveness. Above all we strive to promote equity and improve health. The Service has received the Investors in People Award for the second time (2000-03)—for our commitment to quality, professional development and governance.


  We operate from Centres in Addlestone and Guildford, with a satellite centre in Camberley. The facilities available at the Centres complement health promotion work in many settings across in West Surrey Health Authority area.

  The Centres offer free loan of videos, teaching packs, models, leaflets, posters and books on a wide range of health and related topics.

  A catalogue is available on disk or topic based categories and we strongly recommend that all items are previewed before presentation. Advice is available on specific topics from experienced health promotion specialists by appointment, at any of the Centres.


  The NHS reforms allows us to respond to the challenge of modernisation. We are committed to improving the health of our population and reducing inequalities in health.

  The Health Promotion Service is aware of the need to keep abreast of evidence based interventions and many of our projects reflect this learning. There is a commitment to multidisciplinary approaches and sharing good practice. The Government's "Saving Lives Our Healthier Nation" document reported this aim was "to improve the health of everyone, and the health of the worst off in particular". Our contribution to the Health Improvement Programme reinforces this theme.

  Partership work includes community development initiatives and our contribution to North Walton, Sheerwater & Maybury and Guildford local government Partnerships. The overriding themes of these programmes are improving information, access and strengthening local community action.

  Work with vulnerable groups includes innovative programmes with people with learning disabilities, ethnic groups, gay community etc. We represent the Health Authority by contributing to strategy and policy work including domestic violence, drug, youth and safer communities strategies. Key areas such as coronary heart disease and stroke, cancer, mental health and accident prevention are targeted for action. Sexual health and substance misuse are also included as important areas for development.

  Two major strategic profiles were submitted to the Government, namely on Teenage Pregnancy and Smoking this year and we were pleased with the national and local attention given to these two issues. Our work with Primary Care Groups colleagues is gaining momentum—particularly due to the national and local priorities on smoking, teenage pregnancy, falls and older people and drugs.

  The Health Promoting Schools initiative has grown and is in its seventh year. It has now been made a national priority and some funding has been allocated to develop a national healthy schools standard. The scheme has proved to be successful in promoting good practice in health education in schools. Our Health Education Research Project also involves young people and we are in our second phase of the Exeter University Health Related Behaviour Questionnaire with nine local schools. The results are being used to track trends and the changing needs of young people so that appropriate intervention can be developed.

  (Annual Review and other Reports can be submitted as evidence).


  We have a firm commitment to promote and improve the health of people in West Surrey. It is acknowledged that social exclusion will need to be tackled—this is a complex role for economic, social, educational, environmental and other areas. Many agencies—public, private and voluntary now recognise the need to work in partnership to meet specific challenges to enhance the quality of people's lives.

  We will need to co-ordinate performance and build public health and health promotion professional capacity and capability.

  The development of Primary Care Groups (PCGs) and Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) presents a key challenge to public health and health promotion. The role of Trusts include: Commissioning effective services, promoting and improving the health of communities and developing effective working partnerships. Public Health departments and specialist health promotion service will play a key role in enabling PCGs/PCTs to carry out their public health function.

  West Surrey Health Authority has developed many partnerships and specialists in health promotion have been involved in developing the Health Improvement Plan, Healthy Living Centre initiatives and community programmes. The development of Walk in Centres, NHS Direct, Internet etc, means the public has more choice and health information will be more accessible. Public Health and health promotion development, training and education will remain a priority.

  Partnership working will be significant in the development of our health and social care systems. We must focus upstream on the causes of poor health and inequalities—as well as downstream at the behavioural and other risk factors for major killers. It will be important to engage across organisations on all appropriate levels of decision making and include users, carers and the public.

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Prepared 26 January 2001