“Everyone should be able to live a healthy life with the support they need in their local community.” Liberal Democrat policy
What is the challenge?
Local councils like Wiltshire are responsible for improving public health and providing social care, yet the slashing of government funding has made it difficult to make progress in promoting healthy living. Liberal Democrats believe all factors affecting health should be adequately addressed, including physical and mental conditions, drug use, alcoholism, substance misuse and poverty. Too many children still have a challenging start in life and struggle at school because of the problems faced by their families, and the most vulnerable in our society deserve to receive the care that they need.
Wiltshire Council acts as ‘critical friend’ to the NHS through the Health Select Committee and the Health & Wellbeing Board that covers Swindon and Wiltshire; we will make best use of the relationships with health partners to drive improvements across the areas discussed here.
What will we do?
We will promote a healthy environment and encourage healthy lifestyles to help people avoid health problems and focus on the best ways of providing help for those who need it. A joined-up approach between the NHS and social care, as well as towns and parishes will help us work together to identify and meet the most urgent needs and make sure that we address the priorities that will make the best impact on people’s lives.
In Wiltshire, a Liberal Democrat Council will:
- Place public health and wellbeing at the centre of council business and policy-making in all areas, particularly Environmental Health, Public Protection and planning and design of homes.;
- Lead the fight against poverty – especially child poverty – in rural and urban areas, as well as addressing inequality, isolation, loneliness and economic inactivity in disadvantaged communities;
- Improve services to tackle unhealthy life choices and addictions such as smoking, drug and alcohol consumption, substance misuse, gambling and unhealthy eating. Evidence suggests that stopping smoking can improve mental health as much as use of antidepressants;
- Establish an ‘acting early’ pilot of co-designed and integrated services for children aged 0 – 5, and their families and carers, to identify and address challenges; similar programmes established elsewhere bring together professionals including midwives, health visitors, GPs, social workers and children’s centres to deliver co-ordinated care, improve physical activity and promote healthy eating, so all children have the best possible start;
- Work to remove gaps in services such as mental health for 18-25s and carers, including lobbying central government to extend CAMHS beyond 18 years of age, and continuing health care (CHC) for those with complex needs;
- Foster a greater sense of community engagement and consultation by requiring area boards to work with parish and community groups to plan for the better use, preservation, and conservation of community green spaces;
- Engage with voluntary sector groups with advice and the front-line delivery of community projects aimed at improving health and wellbeing;
- Support activities that provide real health and wellbeing outcomes in Wiltshire Council settings such as leisure centres, swimming pools, libraries, children’s centres, and green spaces (including ‘grow, share, cook’ initiatives);
- Expand health and wellbeing promotion activities that keep people healthy throughout their lives, targeting those most needing support, including the work of community health trainers who help individuals to make healthy decisions; investing in wellbeing and health promotion now would save costs in the long term;
- Encourage the spread of 20mph zones, encourage walking and cycling, and support horse riding in areas where it is safe and appropriate, thereby improving community wellbeing, highway safety and air quality; Investigate reducing road traffic accidents by reviewing road conditions and speed limits;
- Work to improve local food supply, reducing transport costs and emissions, and so helping local farmers; support and encourage farmers to make use of our street markets so that local food is readily available to our residents;.
- Make wellbeing a priority across all policy areas, for example in tackling homelessness and working to increase access to broadband and communications tools.
- Establish an ‘acting early’ pilot;
- Prioritise providing the same standards of access to mental and physical health and care to those who need them;
- Put more emphasis on public health activities that are known to work;
- As vaccines for COVID-19 are now available, we will work with health and education partners and business to ensure that residents of Wiltshire take full advantage of the immunisation programme in order to protect everyone in the community;
- Review Wiltshire Council’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy to assess whether needs and targets are being met, such as enabling more people with mental ill health or disabilities to find settled accommodation;
- Work with health partners to find better ways of supporting the many people struggling with mental ill health brought about by loneliness, anxiety and bereavement as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic;
- Reinvigorate successful health promotion programmes such as smoking cessation and reducing obesity; target efforts at less advantaged communities;
- In particular, review Wiltshire’s compliance with Public Health England’s Health Matters 2020 smoking and mental health calls to action.