A lot is known about the needs of Devon residents through developing the ‘Way Ahead Strategy 2008-2013’ which involved wide engagement on health and care needs across Devon.
Care closer to home was important to residents and in response new services have been established to support individuals to remain at home; including complex care teams, out of hours nursing and rapid response services in all areas. Carer’s services were important to residents and significant investment has resulted in new arrangements for carers support services and health and wellbeing checks. A focus on ‘Being Healthy, Staying Healthy’ resulted in an accredited UNICEF breast feeding initiative including peer trainers and breast feeding co-ordinators which has resulted in an improvement in breast feeding initiation and rates, 80% of schools achieving Healthy Schools Plus status, significant investment in alcohol treatment services and improvements to stop smoking services.
Smoking prevalence has reduced from 20% in 2008 to 18.1% in 2012. Mortality rates for people under 75 for cancer, heart disease and stroke continue to fall. Mortality rates for heart disease and stroke have fallen by 18% since 2007. There are other areas where improvements have started such as mental health and dementia services with improved access to psychological therapies and improved dementia early detection and support including dementia cafes. A project to improve screening uptake for individuals with a learning disability has started and these areas remain important going forward.
New joint engagement arrangements with service users are in place which has assisted with developing the next steps to continue the improvement in health and wellbeing locally. The new Clinical Commissioning Groups are developing commissioning plans for health services based on the progress to date; building on local success and bridging gaps in services. The plans also reflect changes in patterns of disease and need for healthcare and wider support.
In Devon, the gap between the health of the best off and the worst off has narrowed, but the health of the worst off needs to improve faster for health equality to be achieved.