A SUMMARY OF THE COUNCIL'S INVOLVEMENT IN
THE PUBLIC HEALTH AGENDA
1. PUBLIC HEALTH
1.1 Awareness of public health issues has
over the past 12 months been raised both nationally and locally.
1.2 The Government has issued two papers,
a White Paper entitled "The New NHS", and a Green Paper,
"Our Healthier Nation". There have also been two reports
one by the Chief Medical Officer outlining the emerging findings
of a "Project to Strengthen the Public Health Function in
England" and in December 1998 Sir Donald Acheson's (former
Chief Medical Officer's) report was published following the independent
inquiry into Inequalities in Health.
1.3 All the documents highlight the importance
of a partnership approach to improving the public health and they
stress the importance of addressing the inequalities in health
and targeting the resources to these poorer areas of the community
where the effects of poor health are most marked.
1.4 The reports also highlight the important,
and in some areas, statutory, role that local authorities have
in the public health agenda. They recognise the vital contribution
that local authority services can make in this area.
2. THE LOCAL
2.1 In December 1997 West Kent Health Authority
(WKHA) consulted with other agencies and individuals with a proposal
to bid for Government funding for Health Action Zone (HAZ) status
for the Thames Gateway area.
2.2 Gravesham Council was consulted on the
proposals and following a report to Policy and Finance Committee
signalled its agreement to be a partner in the proposal.
2.3 The HAZ bid was unsuccessful, but as
part of the HAZ network multi-agency Health Regeneration Teams
(HRTs) have been set up across North Kent.
2.4 Gravesham HRT is co-ordinated and chaired
by an officer from Gravesham Borough Council and Members of the
Council, as well as officers, have been appointed to it.
2.5 The HRT has progressed work through
its steering group and has identified four main project areas
to be progressed during 1999:
2.5.1 specific local projects in Riverside
and Northfleet West Wards;
2.5.2 extended use of education facilities
and educational projects;
2.5.3 the development and bid for a Healthy
Living Centre, possibly based at the Community hospital site;
2.5.4 extended work in the community, identifying
community workers who could assist and specific work on ethnic
2.6 The Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley
locality Healthcare Partnerships Primary Care Group, together
with WKHA has provided between £10-15,000 to Gravesham Borough
Council to use for HRT project work during 1999.
2.7 The Council has, as part of its community
involvement in health issues organised a public consultation meeting
on health issues and the responses received as part of that exercise
having highlighted those areas in which the community itself see
the Council having a role.
3. THE LOCAL
3.1 WKHA has a statutory duty to draw up,
in consultation with local authorities and other interested parties
a rolling three year HIMP.
3.2 The HIMP seeks to identify the health
needs of the local people and provide strategic plans of action
in order to meet these needs.
3.3 The first draft of WKHA HIMP has been
sent out on consultation and following a report to Health Services
Review Panel the Council's positive response has been sent to
the Health Authority.
3.4 Further consultation will be undertaken
by WKHA and both the work of Gravesham's HRT and the results of
the Public Consultation will be a useful contribution to the final
4.1 The Council has over the past 12 months
demonstrated its commitment to health regeneration and public
health matters in general by:
(a) commissioning research by Greenwich University
into poverty and social exclusion in the Borough;
(b) actively supporting the HAZ bid and the
setting up of the Health Regeneration Teams;
(c) agreeing to co-ordinate and lead the
(d) appointing Members of the Council as
well as officers to the HRT;
(e) holding a public consultation meeting
to seek the views of its community on health issues; and
(f) agreeing to an "audit" of all