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 5 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

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

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

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.

Air pollution

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

  • Local health leaders show support for carers during Carers Week 2020

    Heath bosses in the Black Country and West Birmingham are celebrating the role of carers as part of national Carers Week, especially because of the important contributions they have made during the coronavirus pandemic. This week (8-14 June 2020) is Carers Week – a national awareness initiative highlighting the important work being done by carers in the community – and local health leaders in the Black Country and West Birmingham are supporting this important campaign. Jonathan Fellows, Indepe...

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  • Health chiefs encourage people to visit pharmacies first

    As part of the national Help Us, Help You campaign, health bosses in the Black Country and West Birmingham are encouraging people to visit their pharmacy for advice on minor injuries and ailments. Research shows that 27 percent of general practice appointments in England could potentially be treated elsewhere. Approximately 18 million of these could be treated through self-care and community pharmacies. Many pharmacies are open late, making it easier than ever to get advice. They can advise yo...

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  • NHS rapid response team helps frail older patients

    Against a background of an ageing population and increasing frailty, one NHS Trust has identified opportunities to provide a service targeted at this patient group. The initiative is designed to prevent unnecessary hospital admissions through the emergency front door and keep frail older people safe in their own homes.  Emma Hibbs, Advanced Physiotherapist at Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, explains: “We know that nationally around 50% of the population aged 65+ live with...

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  • Healthier Futures partnership secures funding to develop system-wide digital app

    The Healthier Futures partnership (Black Country & West Birmingham STP) has been awarded NHS funding following a successful pitch, to develop a healthcare app which will increase access to services for the local population. The NHS has identified funding to accelerate worthwhile projects across the country, inviting bids from all systems. A very limited number of organisations were invited to pitch to their respective regional digital teams and the Healthier Futures partnership has been su...

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  • It’s all aboard for popular NHS event

    The next stops for a popular NHS event have been confirmed in the Black Country. More than 200 people flocked to the big NHS red bus in Walsall City Centre to bag advice and freebies to help them keep well this Winter. NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups across the Black Country are behind the events, which aim to raise awareness of the simple steps people can take to keep well during winter. The importance of getting the flu vaccine, how keeping warm can help keep illnesses at bay and reminding...

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  • Check in on vulnerable people this Christmas

    People in the Black Country and West Birmingham are being advised to wrap up warm over the winter season and to look out for vulnerable people during the Christmas and New Year period. Local people are being asked to remember older relatives, friends and neighbours as well as other vulnerable people at this time of year. The over 65s and those with long-term health conditions or disabilities are at increased risk of illness during the winter months. It is important to regularly check in on ol...

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  • Black Country mental health employment service to expand support to local people

    A local service that helps people with severe mental illness to find employment, has successfully obtained additional funding from NHS England to expand its service in the Black Country. The NHS Five Year Forward View (2014) recognises that the employment rate of people with severe and enduring mental health problems is the lowest of all disability groups at just 7%. Furthermore, mental health problems now account for more than twice the number of Employment and Support Allowance and Incapacity...

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  • Dr Doreen Tipton says get the flu jab!

    Doreen Tipton joins health professionals to urge patients across the Black and West Birmingham to get their free flu jabs before the winter sets in. In a video launched by Futureproof Health, the Black Country comic icon Doreen Tipton, played by actress Gill Jordan reminds residents that it’s time for those at greatest risk from flu to protect themselves and their families with a free flu jab. Flu is a highly contagious infection that anyone can catch, and it can be a really serious illness fo...

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  • Service to cut A&E visits from “frequent callers” in the Black Country a Success

    Vulnerable patients are benefitting from a new frequent user project across the Black Country and West Birmingham. A one-year evaluation of the project commissioned by Dudley CCG and Dudley CVS has shown that in those patients who frequently attend A&E, there was a 33% reduction in attendances and a 41% reduction in inpatient admissions, saving the NHS more than £500,000. Delivered by the Dudley CVS Integrated Plus social prescribing team and match-funded by Dudley CCG and the Department o...

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  • Frailty assessment area relocated

    A hospital in Dudley has transformed the way it assesses frail elderly patients who arrive at its Emergency Department ensuring they receive optimal care from a dedicated frailty team providing comprehensive geriatric assessment. Russells Hall Hospital has moved its ward-based frailty assessment unit to the Emergency Department, in line with recommendation in the NHS Long Term Plan, enabling patients to get home sooner and maintaining their independence. Frail patients with complex health cond...

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