Staffordshire pumps £10m into public health to cope with lockdown demand

Public health services in Staffordshire have been given a more than £10 million boost to cope with demand resulting from the coronavirus lockdowns.

File photo dated 12/03/13 of a general view of a man smoking as more than 800 children visit their doctor every day due to the effects of being exposed to secondhand smoke, according to research published by the Royal College of Physicians. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Tuesday June 4, 2013. The figures have been highlighted today as the Government launches a campaign to increase awareness of the hidden dangers of smoking in homes and cars. Millions of children in the UK are exposed to secondhand smoke daily, which puts them at increased risk of lung disease, meningitis and cot death. See PA story HEALTH Smoke. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire.
File photo dated 12/03/13 of a general view of a man smoking as more than 800 children visit their doctor every day due to the effects of being exposed to secondhand smoke, according to research published by the Royal College of Physicians. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Tuesday June 4, 2013. The figures have been highlighted today as the Government launches a campaign to increase awareness of the hidden dangers of smoking in homes and cars. Millions of children in the UK are exposed to secondhand smoke daily, which puts them at increased risk of lung disease, meningitis and cot death. See PA story HEALTH Smoke. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire.

The money has been spent on lifting affected residents out of fuel poverty, investment in drug and alcohol addiction treatment, supporting young people’s mental health and helping residents to quit smoking particularly in pregnancy.

A new Staffordshire County Council report said that drug-related deaths were rising in line with the national average as more addicts suffer deteriorating health as they grow older, that alcohol consumption was higher than the national rate and diagnosis of diabetes was also on the rise.

It also stated that the number of residents smoking was falling faster than the national rate, there are fewer conceptions under the age of 18 and weight-loss programmes have helped more than a thousand residents at risk of getting diabetes lose an average nine pounds.

Among the biggest current public health initiatives being coordinated by the county council is the Warmer Homes Fund under which central heating and insulation was being installed at properties for those suffering from fuel poverty.

Staffordshire’s health and care chief Councillor Julia Jessel said: "Staffordshire is generally a healthy place, with life expectancy similar to the national average. However, there are health inequalities within the county which have been exacerbated by the Covid lockdown.

"It’s vital we work with other services across the county to maintain a strong public health programme to help residents help themselves to live healthier, active lives.”

"Cold homes and fuel poverty are linked to long term illness in adults and children, falls for the elderly and unnecessary deaths in winter.

"While there are environmental benefits too, the Warmer Homes Fund is making a huge practical difference to thousands of people in the county and reduces the need for social care or hospitalisation.”

"Improving and maintaining good health is always a joint effort: health and care services can support people in different ways, though people’s own decisions and commitment to make changes are an essential part of the process,” she added.

The health and care scrutiny committee will discuss the report this week.

Part of the county’s public health strategy is to signpost residents to where help can be found. Initiatives include Do It Staffordshire, provision of 18 local help points and £4.57m funding for the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise sector.

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