‘Partnership is our watchword’

Tackling root causes of ill health with Torbay Council’s Public Health Team

This month, we focus on Torbay Council Public Health team. To share your story, get in touch.Every month, we highlight a team or project that is working in partnership to support local health and care.

What is the main purpose/function of your team: 

Our vision is for Torbay to be a place where the environment contributes to good health and everyone can enjoy good mental and physical health.  As a public health team, our mission is to improve the health and quality of life for people in Torbay, and to tackle the root causes of poor health.  The way we do this is through strategic partnerships, community engagement, and effective programme delivery, using the best information, evidence, and research. 

What is the most challenging part of role? 

One of the most challenging, and also rewarding parts of our role is turning strategy and aspiration into reality.  It’s crucial that together we have a real impact on people’s life outcomes, and can demonstrate improvement over time.  Equally it is always a challenge to work within the financial constraints we all experience, to ensure we have the most cost effective services and interventions wherever possible.

And the most rewarding part of role?

Health and wellbeing are at the heart of life – what could be more rewarding than to be working to improve the health of our communities, and to reduce inequalities in opportunities and outcomes? On a day to day basis, it is great to be part of an enthusiastic team working with dedicated partners both inside and outside our own organisation.    

What are your team’s current priorities?

Working with our partners, we’ve just refreshed our Torbay Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy, which has an ambitious focus on improving mental health and wellbeing, ensuring a good start in life, supporting those with multiple complex needs, digital inclusion, and transforming ageing.  Through all of these areas we are seeking to tackle areas of inequality so that everyone has the chance to be as healthy, engaged, and independent as they can be.  Public Health is always concerned with prevention, which needs to start as early as possible, but it’s also important to remember that it’s never too late to start making a positive change.  There is scope for prevention right up to good end of life care. 

On a practical level, our ‘must dos’ this year include mobilising a new way of commissioning support for people with multiple complex needs, implementing our suicide prevention plan, implementing our Torbay on the Move physical activity plan, and continuing to protect the health of our communities.  We are working with partners on our Turning the Tide on Poverty programme, to build back healthier and fairer following the serious health, social and economic impact of the pandemic. 

What achievement is your team most proud of? 

One of our biggest achievements in the last two years was how our team worked together with our council, NHS and community voluntary partners, to support businesses, schools, care homes and the public to help reduce of the spread of Covid in the Bay. We were, and are, very proud to be part of Team Torbay.  We also maintained access to and delivery of key public health services for the most vulnerable during this time of unprecedented challenge.

Which other teams do you mainly work with (inside and outside of your organisation)? 

Partnership is our watchword, and we work with anyone and everyone!  NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, Healthwatch Torbay, Devon County Council, Plymouth City Council, South West UKHSA and local authority public health teams, are just some of our external local and regional partners. We work with our own Communications team to develop health promoting and health protecting messages that need to get out to our communities.   We also work with business and hospitality networks, voluntary and community organisations, and providers of the services we directly commission.  More and more we are looking to work in partnership with members of our communities on the health and wellbeing issues that are important to them. 

What three items would your team choose to have if they were stuck on a desert island? 

Water, food, shelter!

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