The importance of transport, particularly in rural areas, is now to be highlighted in a key strategy for health and wellbeing in Northumberland over the next decade.
In May last year, county councillors discussed the draft Northumberland Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy for 2018 to 2028, which aims to improve the health and wellbeing of county residents and reduce inequalities.
There are four themes for the strategy, which were previously agreed by the local authority’s health and wellbeing board.
They are: Giving every child and young person the best start in life; Empowering people and communities; Tackling some of the wider determinants of health; Adopting a whole-system approach to health and care.
And while these themes have remained the same in the final version, which will be signed off later this month, there have been some changes following consultation with the public, partners and stakeholders.
One of the key changes is in relation to tackling the wider determinants of health.
Originally one of the priority areas for this theme was about digital connectivity, but following feedback from residents, it now relates to transport policy.
The new priority says: ‘Ensure local transport policy delivers on providing resilient, flexible and sustainable transport options across the county, particularly in rural areas.’
The success of the strategy will be monitored by changes in life expectancy, healthy life expectancy and the gap between Northumberland’s least and most deprived communities on those two measures.
Across the document, there is a focus on the importance of prevention and public health, and a shift away from solely thinking about medicine and treatment, which councillors and health representatives at last Tuesday’s (January 8) meeting of the health and wellbeing committee agreed would require a sea change in public perception.
The council’s director of public health, Liz Morgan, who had provided the update on the 10-year strategy, said: “It’s about changing minds on what actually changes lives.”
Stephen Young, from NHS Northumberland CCG, added: “The health economy of the future will not look like the health economy of the past.”
Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service