Public health overview

Public health.PNG

Public Health seeks to support everyone to live happy and healthy lives by protecting individuals and local communities from illness and environmental hazards and promoting good health by encouraging individuals themselves to adopt healthy behaviours.

The overarching vision for the practice of public health is to improve and protect the nation's health and wellbeing, and improve the health of the poorest fastest. There are two key outcomes measures for the whole public health system:

  • Increased healthy life expectancy, i.e. taking account of the health quality as well as the length of life; and
  • Reduced differences in life expectancy and healthy life expectancy between communities (through greater improvements in more disadvantaged communities).

Improving public health in North Yorkshire and reducing health inequalities

Public health describes our collective organised efforts to improve and protect the health of everyone in North Yorkshire by putting wellbeing at the heart of everything we do to enable each person to live healthier, happier lives.

As a result of the Health and Social Care Act (2012), many Public Health responsibilities were transferred from the NHS to Local Government and as a result North Yorkshire County Council now fulfils the role of a Public Health Authority. This means that it has a responsibility to:

  • Improve the health and wellbeing of the population of North Yorkshire,
  • Prevent disease and minimise its consequences, and,
  • Prolong valued life and reduce inequalities in health. 

More information about Local Government responsibilities for Public Health can be found here.

Work by Sir Michael Marmot in his "Fair Society, Healthy Lives" report detailed the impact that wider determinants have on the health and wellbeing of the population. The report reiterated that there is a social gradient in health, i.e. the lower the social position, the worse a person's health. However, focussing solely on the most disadvantaged will not reduce health inequalities sufficiently. Marmot suggests that action must be universal, but with a scale and intensity that is proportionate to the level of disadvantage.

The six policy objectives to reduce health inequalities recommended by the Marmot report are:

  • Give every child the best start in life;
  • Enable all children, young people and adults to maximise their capabilities and have control of their lives;
  • Create fair employment and good work for all;
  • Ensure a healthy standard of living for all;
  • Create and develop healthy and sustainable places and communities; and
  • Strengthen the role and impact of ill health prevention.

Health in North Yorkshire is generally much better than the England average; however there are significant inequalities between communities in our County. Detailed information about the health of North Yorkshire's residents is available in the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (see below). County and District Health Profiles are also available to view here.

A public health outcomes framework has been published which sits alongside the NHS and adult social care outcomes frameworks. North Yorkshire County Council and the health and wellbeing board are expected to demonstrate progress against these measures.

Health and Wellbeing Board

The Health and Wellbeing Board, which works to improve public health in North Yorkshire through effective integrated working between commissioners of health, public health and social care services, has been established to develop robust strategies and implement Public Health work across the county. More information about the Health and Wellbeing Board can be found here.

North Yorkshire Health and Wellbeing Strategy

The North Yorkshire Health and Wellbeing Strategy is produced by the Health and Wellbeing Board and explains what health and wellbeing priorities the board has set, in order to tackle the needs identified in the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (see below). It is not about taking action on everything at once, but about setting priorities for joint action and making a real impact on people's lives. The North Yorkshire Health and Wellbeing Strategy can be accessed here.

Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA)

Working in partnership with community and voluntary sector service users and NHS Partners, the council, as a public health authority, is required to produce a Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA), which provides a comprehensive local picture of population health and wellbeing needs. It also supports and encourages organisations to work together when developing services. Production of the JSNA is the responsibility of North Yorkshire's health and wellbeing board, a formal committee of North Yorkshire County Council. It provides essential input to the development by the board of North Yorkshire's joint health and wellbeing strategy. North Yorkshire’s Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) can be accessed here.

Director of Public Health annual report

The Director of Public Health is required to provide an annual report which highlights some of the key priority areas. It provides a snapshot of where we are now and celebrates the wide variety of actions currently being carried out to improve the health of the population in North Yorkshire. It also contains recommendations to guide efforts over the next year to improve the health of people in North Yorkshire and reduce health inequalities between communities.

View and download the Director of Public Health annual reports:

Director of Public Health annual report 2018
Director of Public Health annual report 2017
Director of Public Health annual report 2016
Director of Public Health annual report 2015
Director of Public Health annual report 2014
Director of Public Health annual report 2013


North Yorkshire County Council Public Health commissioning responsibilities

In order to achieve our aim of improving and protecting the health of our residents, the North Yorkshire County Council Public Health Team commission several services and programmes of work. Local government public health commissioning responsibilities include:

  • Tobacco control and smoking cessation services;
  • Alcohol and drug misuse services;
  • Public health services for children and young people aged 0-19 (including the 0-5 Healthy Child Programme and the 5-19 Healthy Child Programme);
  • The national child measurement programme;
  • Interventions to tackle obesity such as community lifestyle and weight management services;
  • Locally-led nutrition initiatives;
  • Increasing levels of physical activity in the local population;
  • NHS health check assessments;
  • Public mental health services;
  • Dental public health services;
  • Accidental injury prevention;
  • Population level interventions to reduce and prevent birth defects;
  • Behavioural and lifestyle campaigns to prevent cancer and long-term conditions;
  • Local initiatives on workplace health;
  • Supporting, reviewing and challenging delivery of key public health funded and NHS delivered services such as immunisation and screening programmes;
  • Comprehensive sexual health services (including testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, contraception outside of the GP contract and sexual health promotion and disease prevention);
  • Local initiatives to reduce excess deaths as a result of seasonal mortality;
  • The local authority role in dealing with health protection incidents, outbreaks and emergencies;
  • Public health aspects of promotion of community safety, violence prevention and response;
  • Public health aspects of local initiatives to tackle social exclusion; and
  • Local initiatives that reduce public health impacts of environmental risks.

Public Health communications

Every year the Public Health Team identifies a number of key national public health campaigns for the year which it will proactively promote and support. As a result of the vast number of national days and weeks covering many health and social issues, each year the team identifies the key campaigns to support based around our local public health priorities.