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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

In The News

  • United support for Breastfeeding Week

    Infant Feeding teams and midwives across the Black Country and West Birmingham will be supporting and encouraging mums this National Breastfeeding Week which runs from Monday 27 June until Friday 1 July. This year’s theme is “Everyone has a part to play in helping mums to breastfeed” with a focus on the difference that can be made if everyone supports breastfeeding. And the Black Country and West Birmingham Local Maternity and Neonatal System (LMNS) is highlighting the help that is available fo...
  • Mental health and learning disability chief confirmed to lead new NHS Board

    Respected local NHS leader Mark Axcell has been formally appointed as substantive Chief Executive Officer for the Black Country Integrated Care Board (ICB).  Following a successful recruitment process, Mr Axcell, who has held the position on an interim basis since November, will now officially become CEO on 1 July when the new NHS organisation launches.   Mr Axcell joins the ICB from his previous role as Chief Executive of Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, the local...
  • Healthcare professionals encouraged to return to practice

    A special online event will be taking place in June for nurses and allied health professionals (AHPs) looking to return to practice. The Return to Practice Programme is for qualified nurses or AHPs who are no longer registered and wish to return to work. Those eligible must have been off the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) or Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) register for more than two years, or must not have registered within five years from the date of their qualification. Hoste...
  • Chief People Officer appointed to future NHS Board

    A Chief People Officer has been appointed to the executive team for the new Black Country Integrated Care Board (ICB). Mrs Shajeda Ahmed will take up the role once the ICB formally begins operation, moving to the Black Country from her current role as Executive Director of People, Organisational Development and Inclusion for North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust. As Chief People Officer, she will be responsible for all aspects of staff recruitment, training and wellbeing for the IC...
  • Putting our fantastic midwives in the spotlight

    Today (5 May) is International Day of the Midwife and the Black Country and West Birmingham Local Maternity and Neonatal System (LMNS) wants to thank those who make a difference to families across our communities. Sally Roberts, Chief Nursing Officer for NHS Black Country and West Birmingham CCG, said: “How fantastic that we can make today all about our wonderful midwives. “Once again, we find ourselves talking about another difficult year for them as they have supported mums-to-be a...
  • New appointment to future NHS Board

    The leadership team for the new Black Country Integrated Care Board (ICB) continues to take shape with the appointment of a new executive. The ICB, which will begin operation on 1 July 2022, has successfully appointed to the role of Chief Operating Officer.   The news follows last week’s announcement that the NHS had gone out to advert for a substantive Chief Executive Officer to lead the ICB. The role of Chief Operating Officer will be held by Mr Matthew Hartland, who is currently ...
  • More than 2.6 million COVID-19 vaccines delivered

    Since the start of the vaccination roll-out, more than 2.6 million vaccines have been administered in the Black Country and West Birmingham. More than 980,000 people have now received at least one dose of the vaccine, with almost 690,000 taking up at least three doses.   The spring booster programme is also continuing at pace, with almost 47,000 eligible people vaccinated since March. Those eligible for a spring booster include care home residents, people who are 75 and over and those age...
  • Signs and symptoms of asthma

    This World Asthma Day (Tuesday 3 May), health chiefs in the Black Country and West Birmingham are raising awareness of the signs and symptoms of asthma. World Asthma Day is organised by the Global Initiative for asthma, which aims to improve asthma awareness and care. Asthma is a common lung condition that causes occasional breathing difficulties. It affects people of all ages and often starts in childhood, although it can also develop for the first time in adults. The main symptoms are a whi...
  • NHS seeks to appoint leader to top system role

    The NHS has today gone out to advert for a substantive Chief Executive Officer to lead the new Black Country Integrated Care Board and play a pivotal role within the local health and care system. Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) are partnerships of health and care organisations, local government and the voluntary sector. These partnerships aim to meet health and care needs, coordinate services and plan in a way that improves the health of local people and reduces inequalities between different gr...
  • Local NHS leaders reflect on COVID-19 pandemic

    Two years on from the first UK lockdown, health chiefs across the Black Country and West Birmingham have paid tribute to staff and members of the public. The declaration of the pandemic was made by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in January 2020 and the UK went into full lockdown on Monday 23 March 2020. Since then, health and care staff from across the NHS, local authorities and the voluntary sector have worked in partnership to provide services and support communities, as well as standin...