P1 & P2 Public Health

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P1 – Describe key aspects of public health practice in the UK

P2 – Describe the origins of public health in the UK

Within this assignment I will describe the public health strategies in the UK and their origins. Public health can be defined as; ‘the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life, and promoting health through the organised efforts of society.’ Beryl S, 2007, BTEC National Health and Social Care Book 2, page 116 This definition was used by Sir Donald Acheson in a report which he developed known as the ‘Acheson report in 1988. He believed this reflected the necessary focus of modern public health within the UK. Public health helps to improve the health and well-being of people in local communities and across our nation in general. ‘The dramatic achievements of Public Health in the 20th century have improved our quality of life: an increase in life expectancy, world wide reduction in infant and child mortality, and the elimination or reduction of many communicable diseases.’ http://www.whatispublichealth.org/impact/index.html

There are six key aspects of health strategies in the UK which I am going to look closely at within this assignment. The key aspects of public health practice include;

  • Monitoring the health status of the community
  • Identify the health needs of the population
  • Develop programmes to reduce the risk and screen for early disease
  • Control communicable disease
  • Promote the health of the population
  • Plan and evaluate the national provision of health and social care

Taken from; Beryl S, 2007, BTEC National Health and Social Care Book 2, page 116

  • Monitoring the health status of the community

This is the first key aspect of the health strategies in the UK which looks closely at the health status of the community. This involves monitoring any changes in the health of the population and also alerting people to any potential problems. Great Britain is made up of approximately 60 million individuals so the correct monitoring of public health, therefore, is very important to the nation and its inhabitants. Health throughout the nation is monitored by quality of life, infant mortality rates and life expectancy. Baker L, 2008, BTEC National Health and Social Care Book 2, page 2 The monitoring of health throughout the country allows planning of local services within local communities which may be at risk of particular health problems. Health is monitored at local levels within local communities; it is then recorded and compared to the health of other communities throughout the nation. Local information on health is very important and is collected on a geographical basis throughout the nation. For instance, vaccination rates, RTA’s (Road traffic accidents), hospital admissions etc. This is how health statuses can be monitored as some communities will have higher incidences of certain diseases, whilst others will have low incidences of disease. Those communities with higher incidences of disease will be monitored further and health promotion campaigns will eventually be developed and put into place in order to reduce the risk of disease within the community. The health status of different communities throughout the nation is dependant on many factors including; age, gender, socio-economic conditions, genetics and environmental factors. If health changes are monitored future problems within communities can be identified in advance and be prevented. A current example which i am going to use throughout this assignment to enable me to explain each key aspect of health strategy is the rising levels of sexually transmitted diseases within local communities like Hull, for instance. As the levels of sexually transmitted diseases within Hull are increasing this pattern of disease will be monitored in order to predict potential future problems and prevent them from taking place.

  • Identify the health needs of the population

This is the second key aspect of public health strategies within the UK which takes place once trends and patterns within local communities throughout the nation are established. Identifying the specific needs of the individuals within that particular community means that the likely implications for services can be identified. Patterns and trends can be evident throughout the whole county by gathering national statistics. ‘These statistics are used to determine how health can be improved or how areas of concern can be highlighted and effects of ill health reduced or prevented.’ Baker L, 2008, BTEC National Health and Social Care Book 2, page 2 Patterns of illness and disease can be a result of many factors including; genetics, environment, lifestyle, education and also preventative measures like immunisation programmes for instance. Certain parts of the country may be more susceptible to certain illnesses and diseases and these patterns are outlined in the National Statistics and social trends information.

The health of the nation is measured using mortality and morbidity rates which have shown that individuals are now living longer then previous generations. Mortality rate is how long we live for and morbidity rate is what we die from.

In relation to the example I have used previously there are statistics given on a local level referring to sexual health throughout the UK. Below is a graph showing the rates of Chlamydia amongst men and women.

Sexual Health – Chlamydia rates continue to rise


The graph above shows how sexually transmitted diseases have continued to increase in the UK (national level) over the past decade, particularly among young people.

Chlamydia has been the most common sexually transmitted infection since 2000. Between 2006 and 2007 there was a 7 per cent rise in the number of Chlamydia diagnoses at genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics – a rise of 8 per cent in men, and 6 per cent in women.’ http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?id=412

On a local level in Hull the patterns and trends have shown the need for more sexual health services for individuals due to the increase of sexually transmitted diseases. This may be a result of poor sexual health education in schools, insufficient health promotion of preventative measures available etc.

  • Develop programmes to reduce the risk and screen for early disease

Depending on the health needs of the population health programmes are developed based on information which is gathered by epidemiologists. ‘An epidemiologist is a person who studies patterns of diseases or health risks in population groups, societies, and cultures.’ http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-an-epidemiologist.htm

A green paper is produced by the Department of Health which proposes what the targets of health should be; it is based upon these decisions as to how the government implements the findings. A white paper is then produced which goes into more detail as to exactly how action should be taken. Recent white papers include; ‘Our Healthy Nation’ and ‘Our Healthier Nation’ (1999). The aims of these white papers were to educate and protect the public by influencing social changes in the health of the nation. ‘Public health programmes reduce the risks of disease by educating, providing and promoting health information, choices and active interventions.’ Baker

 L, 2008, BTEC National Health and Social Care Book 2, page 4

Some examples of current public health programmes include;

  • Five a day campaign – people are encouraged to consume five fruit and vegetables a day as this has been found to increase vitamin and mineral content in diets.
  • MMR immunisation programme – parents are encouraged to have their children immunised with measles, mumps and rubella vaccines in order to reduce the incidence of the disease for people who are not able to be immunised for various reasons.
  • Local NHS Stop Smoking Service – educating individuals as to why smoking is harmful to health.
  • Caspher
  • National Chlamydia Screening Programme
  • Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work
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CASPHER is an East Riding Chlamydia Screening Programme whose aim is to raise awareness of Chlamydia throughout Hull and East Riding. They offer a free programme to all individuals between the ages of 13-25 year olds. ‘The test is free and very simple, and we would encourage as many people as possible to get themselves screened as soon as possible in order to protect their sexual health.’  Individuals are required to carry out a urine sample which is then sent of for examination by health professionals. This is an example of a developed programme in Hull which is aimed ...

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