Agenda item

Director of Public Health Annual Report - Report of Director of Public Health


The Council received the 2022 Annual Report of the Director of Public Health for County Durham (for copy see file of Minutes).


Under the Health and Social Care Act 2012, one of the statutory requirements of the Director of Public Health was to produce an annual report about the health of the local population.  In addition the local authority had a duty to publish the report.  The government had not specified what the annual report should contain and had made it clear that this was a decision for individual Directors of Public Health to determine.


The Director of Public Health annual report for 2022 focused on the following:

·        Foreword by the Director of Public Health

·        Health and wellbeing across County Durham

·        Living with COVID-19

·        Making smoking history

·        Priorities (covering Healthier, Fairer and Protected)

·        Update on recommendations from 2021

·        Conclusion


Councillor C Hood, Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Adult and Health Services thanked the Director of Public Health for the presentation of the Annual Report which ensured that the health and wellbeing of residents remained a top priority for the Council.  The report reflected what the Council was doing to support people to live longer, and healthier lives and Councillor Hood placed on record his thanks to the Director and her team for their hard work and effort that underpinned the report.


Councillor J Howey asked whether work took place in schools to discuss the effects of smoking.  The Director of Public Health replied that a lot of work which took place under the Tobacco Alliance focussed predominantly on adults because the best way to stop young people from starting to smoke was to reduce smoking in adults.


Councillor D Boyes referred to the life expectancy figures which seemed to have stalled and expressed concern that the gap in the healthy life expectancy between residents of County Durham and the rest of the country now stood at approximately 4 and a half years.  Although the number of people who smoked was lower than ever Councillor Boyes asked whether the use of vapes was a health concern.  The Director of Public Health replied that nationally the increase in life expectancy had started to stall.  Work was carried out with partners to focus on the priorities which would address the gap in life expectancy and healthy life expectancy.


Councillor R Charlton-Lainé considered that education on the effects of vaping should take place as well as the work which took place around smoking, and the use of nitrous oxide by young people also needed to be addressed.


The Director of Public Health referred to the use of nitrous oxide and replied that the Police and Crime Commissioner had chaired the first Combatting Drugs Partnership which considered the use of drugs and alcohol in County Durham and Darlington.  With reference to vaping there was strong evidence that vaping was much less harmful than smoking and there was a misperception among smokers that it was not less harmful.  While young people should be discouraged from starting to vape, where young people were already smoking then it was preferable if they vaped instead.  A statement about vaping had recently been sent to all schools and the Director of Public Health agreed to share this with all Members.


Councillor L Hovvels thanked the Director of Public Health and her team for the prevention work they undertook.  Councillor Hovvels looked forwards to the results of research being undertaken on the long-term effects of Covid.  Referring to the Warm Hubs Councillor Hovvels asked what was being done towards the hard-to-reach people.


Councillor C Kay asked what was being done to simplify access to mental health services.  Councillor Kay also referred to ManHealth and asked what the Council could do to support such organisations.  The Director of Public Health replied that mental health was a priority for both the Council and partners including the Tees, Esk and Wear Valley Trust and she would provide more details of the specific work which was being done in relation to mental health.

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