The is the first Report of the Joint Director of Public for Devon Primary Care Trust and Devon County Council. Since the publication of the last Report in December 2006, which combined the reports of the Directors of Public Health for the six former Primary Care Trusts, the new Primary Care Trust and Devon County Council have worked in partnership with many others, including NHS Trusts and Foundation Trusts locally, Exeter City Council and the seven District Councils in Devon, plus partner agencies such as the Police and in the voluntary sector, to develop a healthier, safer, stronger, greener Devon community.
This year’s Annual Public Health Report covers all aspects of health and health care. It is set out in sections covering the background vital statistics that define Devon; the challenges from the patterns of disease in our communities; the particular needs of the most vulnerable in society; the persisting gap in health between the better off in Devon and those who are disadvantaged; and what we need to do as public sector bodies to tackle the causes of ill health, now and in the future.
Although this year’s report focuses mainly on the health of adults, next year’s report (2008-09) will focus on children’s health and wellbeing, as a healthy start to life is one of the main determinants of lifelong health.
In general, we have a healthy population with very good quality health and social care services. But the challenges are largely as a result of our lifestyles – we consume more calories than we burn off with physical activity, leading to overweight and obesity. Lots of us still smoke despite knowing the risks to our health and the health of others, and some of us drink too much alcohol. We do not eat enough fresh fruit and vegetables, and the level of fat in our food predisposes us to cancer and circulatory disease. Illegal drugs result in acquisitive crime and concerns for safety in communities. Risky sexual activity results in escalating levels of sexually transmitted disease and unwanted pregnancies. We still do not do enough for those in society who are least able to help themselves.
So the purpose of this report is to highlight where we need to do more; and to set the agenda for commissioning of improved health outcomes for the people of Devon.
I would like to acknowledge the contribution of all of my colleagues in creating the Annual Public Health Report for Devon, 2007-08. I hope that you enjoy reading the report, and find it both interesting and challenging.
Dr Virginia Pearson, Joint Executive Director of Public Health