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Healthier Futures - NHS action on prevention

'Prevention is better than cure' as the saying goes!

We know that preventing ill-health will improve lives, reduce pressure on services and save money for us to reinvest in the Black Country and West Birmingham. We also know that many of you already take positive steps everyday to improve your own health and we want to support people living in the Black Country and West Birmingham to do more of this. 

Healthy life expectancy means the number of years that people can expect to live in "full health"—in other words, not hampered by disabling illnesses or injuries. For people living in the Black Country and West Birmingham the Healthy Life Expectancy is 58 years for men and 59 years for women. 

We aim to increase healthy life expectancy by five years by 2035 so that local people can be healthier and happier for longer. 

The top five risk areas that can contribute to people experiencing ill health younger are, smoking, poor diet, high blood pressure, obesity, and alcohol and drug use. Air pollution and lack of exercise also play a part. It is these areas which we want to focus on in our prevention programme.

We will use our thousands of contacts every day as positive opportunities to help local people improve their health. 

Our key prevention areas are:

Smoking rates have fallen significantly but around 225,000 local people still smoke. Smokers see their GP over a third more often than non-smokers, and smoking is linked to an estimated 12,000 hospital admissions each year. Current estimates are that 13% of local women smoke during pregnancy. The impact of maternal smoking and of second-hand smoke includes low birth weight, stillbirth, miscarriage, preterm birth, heart defects and sudden infant death.

  • By 2023/24 all people admitted to hospital who smoke along with all expectant mothers and partners will be offered NHS funded tobacco treatment
  • There will be a universal smoking cessation offer for MH services

Obesity rates have tripled since 1975, and the UK ranks among the worst in Europe. Locally the rates are higher than England’s average.

Obesity and poor diet are linked with type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and increased risk of respiratory, musculoskeletal and liver diseases.

Obese people are also at increased risk of certain cancers, including being three times more likely to develop colon cancer.

The burden of obesity is not experienced equally across society. We will therefore:

  • Provide a targeted support offer and access to weight management services in primary care for people with a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes or hypertension with a BMI of 30+ ;
  • Continue to implement a Diabetes Prevention Programme
  • We will take action on healthy premises – reduce the sale of unhealthy beverages
  • We will train our workforce on nutrition to speak to patients

Alcohol contributes to conditions including cardiovascular disease, cancer and liver disease, harm from accidents, violence and self-harm, and puts substantial pressure on the NHS.

  • Over the next five years we will roll-out specialist Alcohol Care Teams (ACTs) in our hospitals with the highest rate of alcohol dependence related admissions commencing in 2021.

From our staff seeing patients in their own homes to patients attending appointments and staff travelling to and from work, it is not that much of a suprise that around 3.5% of all road travel in England was found to relate to NHS patients, visitors, staff and suppliers. This means that we are contributing to the air pollution from our roads.

We know that almost 30% of preventable deaths in England are due to non-communicable diseases linked to air pollution. In some areas of the Black Country and West Birmingham the number of deaths linked to air pollution is higher than across the rest of England.

  • By 2023/24 we will work to reduce air pollution caused by business mileage by 20%
  • By 2028 at least 90% of the NHS fleet will use low-emission engines
  • By 2028 primary heating from coal and oil fuel in NHS sites will be fully phased out
  • We will redesign care and make greater use of ‘virtual’ appointments to redue the need for people to travel

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