Public Health is "The science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health through the organised efforts of society, organisations, public and private, communities and individuals." (Wanless,D. 2004)
The goal of public health is to improve lives through the prevention and treatment of disease.There are three main areas of Public Health:
1. Improving Health
Our work in this area includes collecting information about the health of people who live in the PCT area, the illnesses which affect them and things which might influence their health. Much of our work aims to prevent illness and promote good health, as well as trying to reduce health inequalities (ie the gap in health terms between the better off in society and the least well off).
Much ill health is related to people's environment and social conditions, so we also work closely with other organisations such as Councils who can have a more direct influence on these sorts of factors. We also work with many other different public, private and voluntary sector agencies (such as General Practitioners and other health professionals, governmental and non-governmental organisations, pharmacies, schools, the Prison Service, private businesses and charities) to improve the health of Berkshire West residents.
2. Improving Services
Public Health has an important role to play in helping to plan the way health care and services are delivered in Berkshire West. Our role includes advising which treatments including medicines, operations and other procedures - are the most effective and give best value for money. We also advise on the measures that can be used to ensure that services are being provided to a high standard. Another important part of this work is making sure that everyone has an equal opportunity to receive health care if they need it.
3. Protecting Your Health
Public Health also has a role in protecting peoples health and well-being. This includes protecting people from infectious diseases so we need to make sure that we have effective immunisation programmes in place, and also that we act quickly to prevent spread if there are outbreaks of infectious disease.
We work with local authority Environmental Health Officers to manage environmental health hazards (such as outbreaks of food poisoning). We also work with the Health Protection Agency (HPA) to prevent harm when hazards involving chemicals, poisons or radiation occur.
It is our responsibility to make sure that the PCT can deal with any emergency situation that may arise, for example if large numbers of people are affected by an accident or an environmental hazard.