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NHS trust's plan for a healthier Northumberland population

Northumbria Healthcares flagship hospital at Cramlington.
Northumbria Healthcares flagship hospital at Cramlington.

The methods used to bring down smoking rates in the North East are to be harnessed in a bid to make people healthier and reduce the burden on the NHS.

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, which runs hospitals in Northumberland and North Tyneside, has drawn up a strategy to try to tackle those lifestyle issues which have the biggest impact on people’s health – and highest cost to the health service.

Prevention is better than cure, as the saying goes, with cancers, CVD (cardiovascular diseases) and respiratory diseases remaining the main causes of death in the North East, many of which are closely linked to behavioural factors such as smoking, alcohol, obesity and physical inactivity.

A report to Northumberland County Council’s health and wellbeing board outlined the trust’s efforts on prevention and population healthcare – maximising the benefits of improving health, preventing ill-health and reducing health inequalities.

Essentially this means a commitment to improving the health and wellbeing of all those it comes into contact with – not just patients, but staff, visitors and the wider community.

The report explains that ‘as a large employer and acute and community care provider, the organisation is uniquely placed to make a significant contribution to improving population health’.

Claire Riley, the trust’s director of communications and corporate affairs, said: “There has been a lot of work on smoking cessation and, while that continues, we are looking at what to tackle next.”

Partnership efforts across the region to reduce smoking rates have resulted in the North East seeing the largest drop in the country – although smoking remains the the single biggest cause of preventable deaths.

The health and wellbeing board is made up of county councillors as well as representatives from organisations such as Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Northumbria Healthcare.

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service