Barking and Dagenham report advises council take-over of public health

An increase in the number of children living in the borough will put pressure on health services, a new report warns.

Other key issues highlighted are that people need more support to stay healthy, particularly those with long-term conditions, and health and social care needs to be brought together.

The public health report was written by Barking and Dagenham’s director of public health Matthew Cole and has been presented to senior councillors.

As of April 1, the council will be in charge of delivering public health in the borough, taking over from the now-abolished NHS Primary Care Trust.

A new Health and Wellbeing Board, led by cabinet member for health Cllr Maureen Worby, will focus on improving health issues faced by people living in Barking and Dagenham.

Cllr Worby said: “We know that rates of child poverty are higher in our borough than elsewhere. We know too that we have to work hard to reduce relatively high rates of smoking, obesity and low levels of physical activity.

“As the public health function transfers from the NHS into the council, I am determined to make sure that we will be able to point to increased life expectancy in the future closer to the London average and that our population enjoys improved outcomes.”

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Matthew Cole, director of public health for Barking and Dagenham, said: “We face the real challenge of improving residents’ health and wellbeing at a time of significant demographic change and financial constraint.

“This is a really important report which is published just as the local council begins leading the work on public health. It’s an exciting but heavy agenda which will make a real and lasting difference to the people of this borough.”