Health Needs Assessment Reading

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The key links between health issues in
Reading, Berkshire and the determinants of health.

Stevens and Raftery (1997) state that the health needs of a population are only worth assessing when something useful can be done about the results. A health needs assessment (HNA) is a systematic method for reviewing the health issues facing a population, leading to agreed priorities and resource allocation that will improve health and reduce inequalities. (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence 2005)

This health needs assessment aims to establish how, by improving just two key determinants of health, it is possible to positively affect the population of Reading’s health and well-being. The determinants of health focused on in this paper are, education and individual lifestyle factors - in particularly diet & exercise. By researching the common causes of the health issues raised in the Health summary of Reading (Department of Health (DoH) and Association of Public Health Observatories (APHO) 2010) and using Dahlgren & Whitehead’s Social Model of Health (1991) (see appendix 1.1) it has been possible to establish links between both the health issues raised and their causes. By assigning each particular health issue to the appropriate category on the social model of health diagram, it becomes apparent that several of Reading’s health tribulations could be resolved by broadening the content of the national curriculum and also by enhancing the population’s knowledge and interest on the topic of diet and exercise. A valuable source of information used whilst compiling this health needs assessment was the ‘2010 Reading Health Profile’ published by the DoH and the APHO. The document compares 32 health indicators showing the gap between the Reading average and the England Average, allowing you to clearly see which health issues need addressing to improve the overall health and well being of Reading’s population.

With an estimated population of 145,700 (UK National Statistics 2008) Reading has become one of the largest populated urban areas throughout the United Kingdom. Reading is situated within the Thames Valley, sitting about halfway between London and Oxford. Reading has recently been described as having an ethnically diverse population. Unfortunately, until the 2011 census there is no definitive source of ethnicity data available, as all information from the 2001 census is now unreliable; since Reading has experienced significant population changes. Recent data collected from National Insurance registrations and local school registrations suggest that the non-white populations are increasing in Reading and that there has been an increase of new arrivals from Eastern and Central Europe. Data collected in 2008 from schools in Reading, showed that 39% of pupils were recorded as coming from a non-British heritage background.

Reading comprises of sixteen wards, (see appendix 1.2) with thriving communities in the north, a heavy student population in the east and areas of significant deprivation in the east, south and centre. (Berkshire West Primary Care Trust) When comparing the level of health in Reading to the England average, a mixed picture is painted. (see appendix 1.3) Hospital stays for alcohol related harm, diagnosis of Diabetes and smoking during pregnancy levels, all rate better than the England average. However, the infant mortality rate, early deaths from Heart Disease and Stroke, new cases of Tuberculosis and drug misuse are all currently worse than the England average. (APHO and DoH 2009) Data collected from the APHO and the Department of Health shows that overall the population of Reading has a good level of health. However there are large inequalities across the area. An example of this is the life expectancy for men and women in Reading. For men the life expectancy of those living in the most deprived areas is over 7 years lower than to those who live in the least deprived...
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