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1. Introduction

1. Introduction : The Health of the Population in the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Area

(Watch video interview)

Dr Linda de Caestecker,
Director of Public Health,
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde

The Director of Public Health in every NHS Board area produces regular reports on the health of the local population.  Traditionally, these reports have focused on describing the health status of the population.  However, with improved access to health statistics through regular reports from a number of bodies, for example the Information & Statistics Division of the Scottish Government and the Glasgow Centre for Population Health and the availability of health data on the web, there is less need to produce detailed statistical reports than in the past.

This report, my first since my appointment in November 2006, focuses on the key public health challenges within our population and the priority actions to address these challenges.

Factors

Health is not the product of a single circumstance or experience. It is shaped by socio-economic, political and societal circumstances as well as by environmental, biological and behavioural factors.

If the health of the people living in Greater Glasgow and Clyde is to improve we must address all of these factors and circumstances.

The inequalities in health that we experience in our population require policies to reduce poverty and disadvantage as well as to improve delivery of services that ensure access for everyone, taking account of people’s life circumstances.

New Organisation

This is the first report that has encompassed the new organisation of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

The organisation has been through significant change during the past two years with new structures and processes in place that are intended to put the organisation in the best position possible to influence the determinants of health, to contribute to tackling inequalities and to improving health. These changes are discussed in more detail in the report.

In April 2006, the Glasgow Centre for Population Health, of which NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde is a partner, published a comprehensive report of health and its determinants in Glasgow and West Central Scotland called: Let Glasgow Flourish (1).

This report provided an in-depth analysis of the health and its determinants of the population covered by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

Rather than repeat this analysis, this report will focus on the key messages generated by the data of Let Glasgow Flourish. These are:

  • There are lessons to be learned from what is getting better
  • Health inequalities are increasing
  • Our least healthy communities are unlike our healthy communities in every way
  • Significant changes are taking place in our population
  • The obesity epidemic must be taken seriously
  • Alcohol is an increasing problem
  • Sustainability should become a more explicit consideration

 Each chapter under these key messages is structured in the same way as:

  • A summary of the public health challenge and the scale of the problem
  • A description of how NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and its partners are currently responding to the issue, with some specific examples
  • Key public health messages and priorities for action

Action

The intended audience for this report is anyone in a position to influence health in the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde area. 

However, the call for action is primarily aimed at community planning which is the process through which public sector organisations work together with local communities, the business and the voluntary sectors to plan and improve services. 

Our local authority partners, in particular, have a vital role in the design of the environment, access to opportunities for physical activity, availability of healthy food and drink, and economic growth.  All public organisations have an important role as exemplar employers in responding to the health of employees and their families and responding to the challenges of inequality, of sustainability and of climate change.

Government

In addition, many of our significant health challenges will require action from the UK and Scottish Governments, including those relating to incomes and to the price and availability of healthy and unhealthy food and drink.   NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde - with our partners - will continue to work with the Scottish Government to influence future policy on these issues.

It is intended that the report is used as a subject of debate on public health issues and that community planning partnerships use the priorities for action to inform the joint planning that is being undertaken to improve the health of the population with a continued focus on addressing inequality.

Contributors

This report is the product of many people’s work and the contributors are acknowledged. Many others also commented on the report through written comments or at seminars on the report. I am grateful to everyone who has contributed to making this report as authoritative and outward looking as possible.

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