A number of significant achievements have been made by the County Durham Health and Wellbeing Board in its fourth year of operation, a meeting of the board has heard.

Presenting its annual report for 2016/17, the County Durham Health and Wellbeing Board outlined the work it has carried out in the last twelve months and the projects earmarked for the future.

Examples include the agreement of an Oral Health Strategy to address concerns raised over variations in oral health across the county.

This will aim to reduce the prevalence of dental disease in young children and the aging population and reduce inequalities in dental disease after statistics showed over 60 per cent of children had experience of tooth decay in Woodhouse Close, Bishop Auckland compared to six per cent in Chester-le-Street.

Other highlights include the establishment of the Healthy Child Programme Board, a sub-group providing a specific focus on health issues affecting children, young people and families to reduce health inequalities and deliver improved outcomes.

In 2016, the Health and Wellbeing Board was also one of only 14 boards in the country to achieve a six out of six rating by National Energy Action for the innovative work it is doing on tackling fuel poverty/cold-related ill health.

Other work includes:

-The Better Care Fund is being used to reduce inappropriate demand on A&E and Urgent Care services, with work including greater access and use of telecare by people in their homes and co-ordinated support to enable people to return home following a stay in hospital.

-A more targeted approach has been made in relation to identifying people most at risk of cardiovascular disease and developing Type 2 diabetes to offer them interventions designed to lower their risk.

-The board is continuing to support measures aimed at improving dementia diagnosis rates such as by providing regular information and guidance for GPs and increasing the number of dementia friendly activities, such as dementia friendly swimming, in a number of our pools.

-An Integration Board has been established as a sub group to lead the integration of services. This includes ‘Teams Around Patients’ being established to offer a range of coordinated services centred around groupings of GP practices.

Over the coming months, members of the Health and Wellbeing Board will review the Board’s priorities to ensure it is addressing the issues that make the biggest difference to the health and wellbeing of County Durham residents.

Cllr Lucy Hovvels, Portfolio Holder for Adult and Health Services, said: “We have made some excellent progress towards improving health and reducing inequalities in 2016/17 and this has been recognised nationally.

“It is important that we identify the board’s achievements in order to build on this success in our future work. Health and wellbeing impacts all areas of our residents’ lives and the Health and Wellbeing Board will continue to work towards improving the lives of the people of County Durham.”

Vice Chair of the board Dr Stewart Findlay, Chief Clinical Officer at DDES CCG, said: “The report highlights the commitment of partners to the joint work that it takes to bring about improvements in health with and on behalf of our local residents.

“We will continue to work closely together to improve the health of all people across County Durham by focusing on an integrated approach with emphasis on early intervention, prevention and promoting independence.”

The full report can be found by visiting www.countydurhampartnership.co.uk