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Issue:- Thursday, 25 August 2016

Headlines and reports on this page = 2 news items.    Page - 13.

Council announces plans to spend more than £20 million on health services over next 5 years

WIRRAL Council has announced plans to spend more than £20 million on health services for the public of Wirral over the next 5 years.

In a report going to Cabinet, on 5 September 2016, Councillors will be asked to agree a significant investment on commissioned services to tackle a range of public health priorities across areas such as addiction treatment, weight management and sexual health.

Plans include a new service to help people find and access activities which will improve their health and well being, to be introduced in Wirral over the coming year. This new information and advice facility is aimed at better supporting people with social, emotional or practical health needs.

A £2 million contract to deliver this service for 3 years will shortly go out to tender.

Cllr Janette Williamson, Cabinet member for Public Health, said:- "We are seeing the benefits of public health being part of Wirral Council in terms of how we are able to focus on prevention and progress our pledge to provide people with the tools and resources to improve their own health and well being. This has never been so important, especially in the light of last week's disappointing national health strategy which, instead of compulsory action on the part of advertising agencies and food and drink companies, put the onus on voluntary action by the individual to reduce levels of fat and sugar. We will continue to draw on public health skills across the board as part of our commitment to helping people live healthier lives."

Since the 'Health and Social Care Act 2012' came into force, local authorities have had statutory responsibility for preventative public health measures. This means Wirral Council locally takes the lead on encouraging people to lead healthier lives and ensuring plans are in place to tackle infectious disease outbreaks or other public health emergencies.

The Council does this by awarding a broad range of contracts to specialist providers and managing these contracts to ensure agreed targets and priorities are met.

At present, public health manages 110 contracts with 107 providers. All contracts are kept under ongoing review to ensure they deliver the best possible outcomes and value for money.

One of the major public health investments in the last few years has been on services to help get young people on the road to a healthier and active lifestyle from an early age.

Part of this is delivered by the 0-19 Health Promotion Team, which was set up in September 2015. They have hit the ground running and have already supported more than 200 young people with a wide range of activities.

These include a 'Fit Club at New Ferry Village Hall', which supports children and young people; and their parents/carers; by providing advice on healthy eating, along with physical activities which are fun for the entire family to get involved in.

The team offers incentives, such as free gym passes, to help people better manage their weight and they also provide a DIY support packs to busy parents to help them support their children with a healthier lifestyle.

They have worked in schools delivering health and well being programmes and conducting health events and roadshows at other places, such as the Floral Pavilion, St Catherine's Health Centre and the Laurie's Centre in order to raise the profile of the team amongst the public and with other professionals.

The Active Wirral programme also plays a significant role in helping to get young people along a healthier road. Active Wirral uses monthly themes and promotions to engage families in active lifestyles and has developed its own activities, such as the 10 Minute Shake Up and Dare to Dance, as well as promoting the national Change4Life campaign.

Eating healthily has been high on the agenda too and the:- 'Takeaway for a Change' project, a partnership initiative between the council's Public Health and Environmental Health teams has engaged with more than 1,000 school pupils over the last 18 months.

The teams go into schools and host workshops fitted around the school day providing advice and support about healthy foods and how people can reduce the volume of fat, sugar and salt in their diets.

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