Public Health England guest blog: Making prevention a priority for the next generation of health professionals

3 October 2018

Guest blog by Jamie Waterall, Associate Deputy Chief Nurse & National Lead for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention, Public Health England 

We are now living longer, but for many people those years are spent in poor health. As we get older, our risk of lifestyle-related long-term conditions increases. Smoking, alcohol and lack of physical activity are some of the major risk factors of leading causes of death and ill-health and, worryingly, these are more prevalent in lower socioeconomic groups. If you live in our most deprived communities, evidence shows that you’re almost twice as likely to die prematurely as those in the least deprived. So it’s clear that preventing ill health can play a vital role in reducing health inequalities across the country – and it is rightly a growing priority for health and social care professionals today.

In England, two thirds of premature deaths and ill health could be prevented by addressing key risk factors such as obesity, tobacco use, high blood pressure and physical inactivity. By taking action to improve our impact on health outcomes through prevention, we could save tens of thousands of lives.

Public Health England (PHE)’s All Our Health (AOH) framework is a call to action to all health and care professionals to embed prevention within their day to day practice. Through educational materials, tools and resources, it helps professionals make an even greater impact in preventing illness, protecting health and promoting wellbeing.

For example, it provides information on using techniques such as brief conversations, health coaching and motivational interviewing to encourage important lifestyle changes that help people reduce their risk of chronic ill-health, such as losing weight, quitting smoking and cutting back on alcohol. These are skills that will benefit all health and care professionals, regardless of their specialism.

All Our Health can play an important role in the education and development of healthcare professionals – both students and those undertaking continuing professional development. By embedding All Our Health resources as part of academic curricula, Higher Education Institutions can help students to understand the importance of prevention as part of clinical practice and its role within wider public health policy.

Engaging with the framework also allows student and qualified health care professionals to demonstrate how they meet the regulator’s education standards, which will enable them to prepare for their application, CPD evidence and re-validation submissions for the Nursing and Midwifery Council or Health and Care Professions Council. It provides useful information to support curricula content and development for pre-registration nursing and midwifery education. Higher Education Institutions can engage with the framework in a number of ways, set out below:

Level One: Including All Our Health on the reading list for the pre-registration course.

Level Two: Encouraging lecturers use All Our Health materials in their teaching and that these are made available to support student learning

Level Three: Creating a structure within the programme to identify an All Our Health champion to lead the use and evaluation of the All Our Health resources by the cohort / student group and report annually to PHE

We would also welcome nominations from student health care professionals to work with PHE as an All Our Health champion. The nominee will have the opportunity to attend All Our Health strategy meetings on a regular basis and publish blogs via the PHE website discussing their work.

Using the All Our Health framework to support student nurses and midwives’ learning and development will help us make a real difference to public health. To find out more, visit All Our Health.

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