Having a say on health priorities

CALLS have been made for the “fantastic” public response to a major consultation which will help shape services not to be forgotten about.

The consultation was carried out by Hartlepool’s shadow health and wellbeing board, which from next April will be responsible for ensuring that the health needs of local people are being met.

A total of 465 people took part in a series of consultation exercises, while a further 105 people took part in an online survey.

The consultation is being used to help shape the draft five-year health and wellbeing strategy, which will be published for public consultation in the autumn.

Speaking at a recent cabinet committee meting, Mayor Stuart Drummond described the response as fantastic and said it is important people’s views are taken on board.

Mayor Drummond said: “We have had a fantastic response so far and the public event was very well attended with some good stuff coming out of it.

“We need to make sure that it is not just forgotten about and we need to respond back to the people that have already responded.

“This is about responding to whatever people’s needs and aspirations are.

“If it just sits with professionals now, then that is not the right thing and we have to make sure that it is a two-way process.”

Louise Wallace, the town’s director of public health, said: “The policy area that received the most support was giving every child the best start in life.

“Other areas are of course key as well, but that priority came out on top.

“We need to capture as many people’s views as possible.”

During the consultation, people were given tokens representing money and asked to place them in up to seven boxes representing key strategic health objectives, according to how much they feel should be spent on each.

Results revealed the top three public priorities are:

l To give every child the best start in life;

l Ensure a healthy standard of living for all;

l Create fair employment.

The health and wellbeing board and the cabinet committee have met to discuss the strategy in recent weeks.

The board’s vision is to improve the health and wellbeing of residents and reduce health inequalities.

Once the strategy is finalised it is expected to be adopted by April 2013.

Board members intend to increase childhood immunisation rates, reduce smoking in pregnancy, increase breastfeeding rates, provide accessible sexual health services and promote parenting and family literacy skills.