26 November 2012
‘Linking Environment and Health: A resource for policy and decision makers working on Joint Strategic Needs Assessment’ has been written to help Health and Well-being Boards, Directors of Public Health, Health Watch and Local Authority Environment Leads to address the interface between health and well-being, population health and environmental change. It is about how the strategic challenges involved can be addressed and what practical steps can be taken to increase the health and resilience of communities.
Our health and well-being is influenced by a wide range of factors, many of which lie outside the remit of health and social care services. These include economic issues, the quality of the local environment and of housing, and connections to wider society. There is a clear need for an effective local strategy on health and well-being to place emphasis on prevention, promote self-care and drive services upstream. Sustainability from both a financial and environmental perspective – as well as a health and well-being perspective – can be improved by providing services to patients in timely and effective ways.
Given the importance of the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) in shaping priorities for health and social care investment it is essential that a proper assessment of such environmental factors, which impact on population health and health inequalities, are given real attention and emphasis. Health and Well-being Boards and the Boards of health and care providers will also want to take full account of environmental issues and community capacity when addressing quality and finance challenges.
The main focus of this report is to strengthen action on the impact of these environmental issues on health and well-being in London. But what has also become clear from work on its preparation is that there is a broader, more strategic leadership challenge.