Health and Wellbeing in Lancashire
Lancashire has a diverse population of around 1.4 million people and there are wide variations in levels of income and wealth. Our landscape and towns are also varied and reflect the differing health and wellbeing needs of the people who live here. We know that there are large inequalities in health and in the causes of poor health between geographical areas and groups of people. To help us understand the health needs of Lancashire’s citizens we use the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA). The JSNA paints a picture of health and wellbeing in the county and its influences. The priorities that have been highlighted by the JSNA have been used to help develop the Health and Wellbeing Board Strategy.
Our population in Lancashire
The population of Lancashire is changing. The number of older people in the county is increasing and is projected to grow further by 2020. While people are living longer, many are spending more years at the end of life in poor health and our strategy should therefore focus on intervening earlier and in new ways to prevent ill health and disability among older people. The shape of households in the county is also changing with an increasing proportion of adults and older people living alone, putting more people at risk of social isolation, particularly in later life. There is evidence that good social relationships protect against a wide range of health problems.
The population of children and young people is also changing, it is becoming increasingly ethnically diverse and too many children are being born into poverty. Lancashire performs particularly poorly on indicators relating to expectant and new families, such as smoking in pregnancy and breast feeding. Improving the living conditions and physical and mental health of pregnant women and expectant families can prevent poor health for the rest of the new baby's life.
The health behaviour of Lancashire's population is changing. Although overall fewer people are now smoking tobacco, smoking rates among routine and manual social groups remain static. Alcohol consumption and obesity are increasing, putting increased demands on health and social care services. Patterns of drug use are also changing, with evidence of increases in the proportion of people misusing a combination of different drugs and alcohol. Economic and social factors have a large influence on the health and wellbeing of Lancashire's population and it is likely that the current economic climate will have negative impacts on health status unless action is taken across partners to reduce them.
Many of the causes of poor health in Lancashire are preventable with improved living conditions, social relationships and support; healthier behaviours and better quality health and social care services. We have particular areas of success in which partners are working together in different ways to improve outcomes and these prove that it is possible to make a difference to our communities' health and wellbeing.
A positive future
Lancashire has considerable assets (the strengths of people and places in communities) that can be used for the benefit of the health of local people. The county has abundant green space and countryside that is already enjoyed by local people for leisure and relaxation. This can also be used for health and wellbeing opportunities. Local authority partners in the county have significant regulatory and enforcement powers such as licensing, planning and trading standards that can be used to promote health and wellbeing e.g. tackling under age sales of alcohol and ensuring that new developments have open green space.
Lancashire's GPs and wider primary care services have a pivotal role in preventing ill health and in working together with patients to manage long term health problems. Lancashire also has a large, vibrant and thriving third sector with even more potential to contribute to protect and improve the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities. As well as prioritising action to meet the important health needs in the county, our strategy will focus on building and exploiting these assets further for the benefit of the health and wellbeing of our citizens.