20 year health plan unveiled for Suffolk

A TWENTY-year plan which aims to make Suffolk the healthiest county in Britain is being launched today.

Sheena Grant

A TWENTY-year plan which aims to make Suffolk the healthiest county in Britain is being launched today.

The Healthy Ambitions campaign vows to cut cancer and heart disease deaths as well as putting an end to the inequalities that can mean a difference of as much as 12 years life expectancy in different parts of the county.

The initiative -thought to be the first of its kind in the country - is the brainchild of local councils, the NHS, business and voluntary sectors, which together form the Suffolk Strategic Partnership.

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Dr Peter Bradley, director of public health for the Primary Care Trust (PCT) and Suffolk County Council, said Suffolk was already fairly healthy when compared to other areas across the country.

“However, there are lots of isolated rural pockets where we know that health isn't as good as it should be,” he continued. “Also we know that we have areas, particularly in Ipswich and Lowestoft, where there is definite deprivation, and health is adversely affected.

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“Our aim is to make Suffolk the healthiest county in Britain by 2028 and this project, if it gets the right support, has the potential to help us reach that goal.”

The campaign will be kick-started at an event being held today at Trinity Park, Ipswich.

Individuals and organisations will be asked to show their support by signing a wall and a DVD - featuring Ipswich Town players, school children, doctors and others - will be unveiled.

In addition, Dance East will be performing and students from Farlingaye High School, Woodbridge, will be providing music.

At the core of the campaign will be an emphasis on measures that have a large impact, such as promoting walking and cycling and introducing health initiatives in workplaces, homes and schools.

Other key themes include:

- Better access to more flexible healthcare and other public services.

- More information and education to help people manage their lifestyles.

- Better integration between health and social care.

Success will be measured by a range of indicators, such as looking at death rates for the biggest killers, smoking, chronic disease rates and mental health.

“This is not just an NHS issue,” Dr Bradley said. “It is about everybody recognising the part they can play in this. We want people to pledge to Healthy Ambitions as individuals or organisations.”

The campaign is being supported by a group of well-known local people who are coming together to form a Champions Advisory Board.

Under the chairmanship of James Hehir, Ipswich Borough Council chief executive, the group includes hotelier, food broadcaster and writer, Ruth Watson and world champion kick-boxer, Marlon Hunt.

Mrs Watson said: “Healthy Ambitions covers all sorts of aspects of health for all ages, but I accepted the invitation to be on the board largely because I am interested in children learning from an early age about food, not just how to cook it but where it comes from too.

“Most children in rural areas have a clear understanding of where food comes from while children in urban areas need to learn more about real food and nutrition.”

Clare Euston, chairman of the Suffolk Strategic Partnership, added: “To make Healthy Ambitions work, it is critical that everybody understands the different priorities of all partners.

“By us all coming together and playing our part, we can help people to make a real difference to their health over the next 20 years.”

For more information about the campaign visit www.suffolk.nhs.uk and click on the 'get involved' link.

A dedicated website - www.healthyambitionssuffolk.nhs.uk - will be up and running from January 1.

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