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History of Public Health Systems Essay

Public Health is about helping everyone to stay healthy rather than focusing specifically on the individual, with the aim to promote health, protecting individuals from threats to their health and preventing ill-health. Public health policies have made a significant impact in increasing a person’s overall life expectancy and improving health. (Public Health)

Public Health Strategies:

Public health strategies are devised in order to prevent the spread of diseases, prolong life and promote health. This can be done through the use of monitoring, identifying, developing programmes etc.

Monitoring the health status of the community – Is a key aspect of health strategies that are in place within the UK. This health strategy helps to monitor any changes that occur in the health of the population, along with alerting individuals to any potential problems.

Health throughout the UK is monitored by quality of life, infant mortality rates and life expectancy (Baker L, 2008, BTEC National Health and Social Care Book 2, page 2) The monitoring of health throughout the country allows for advanced planning of local services within the community that may be at risk of certain health problems. The monitoring of health at a local level allows for information to be recorded before being compared to the health of other communities across the country. Local information on health is an important aspect as it is collected on a geographical basis throughout the UK, for example vaccination rates, hospital admissions etc.

This is one way on health can be monitored, as in the cases of other communities they may have higher incidence rates of certain diseases whereas others may have low incidences of diseases. Communities that have a higher rate of disease are monitored further and health promotion campaigns will be developed before being put into effect in order to reduce the risk of disease spreading within the community. The health status of a community can vary throughout the nation and depend on a variety of factors, of which can include:

Socio-economic conditions
Environmental factors

Through the use of monitoring health changes any problems that may arise in the future within communities can be identified in advance in order for it to be prevented. For example the rise of sexually transmitted diseases within local communities would monitored in order to predict any potential problems that may occur in the future and stop them from taking place.

Identifying the health needs of the population – The health of the nation is measured by using mortality and morbidity rates of which have indicated how people are now living longer than that of their predecessors.

Identifying the health needs of the population is another important aspect of public health strategies within the UK; this takes place when trends and patterns in local communities across the nation are established. By identifying the health needs of individuals located in a particular community means that the need for services can therefore be identified. Patterns can be detected throughout the country through the use of national statistics. National statistics are used in order to determine how health can be improved and how areas of concern can be highlighted, along with the effects of ill health may be reduced and prevented. Patterns of illness and disease can possibly be the result of certain factors, of which include; genetics, environment, lifestyle, education etc.

However some parts of the country may be more susceptible to certain illnesses and diseases than others due to the patterns that are outlined by the National Statistics and social trends information. Developing programmes to reduce risk and screen for early disease – ‘Screening is the process of identifying apparently healthy people who may be at increased risk of a disease or condition. They can then be offered information, further tests and appropriate treatment to reduce their risk and/or any complications arising from the disease or condition.’ As defined by the UK National Screening Committee (UK NSC). Health programmes are developed based on the information gathered by epidemiologists. ‘An epidemiologist is a person who studies patterns of diseases or health risks in population groups, societies, and cultures.’

The Department of Health produces a green paper that proposes what the targets of health should be; and is based on these decisions as to how the government implement the findings. From this a white paper is produced, of which goes into detail as to how and what course of action is taken. An example of recent white papers can include ‘Our Healthy Nation’ and ‘Our Healthier Nation ‘ (1999). The aim of the white paper is to inform and protect members of the public by influencing social changes in regards to the health of the nation. (L, 2008, BTEC National Health and Social Care Book 2, page 4). Examples of current public health programmes include: Five a day campaign, MMR immunisation programme and the Local NHS Smoking Service.

Controlling communicable disease – Controlling communicable diseases is an important aspect of public health strategies in the UK, of which ‘involves planning to include screening and early detection, isolation and treatment, containment, prevention and cure eradication where possible’. (Baker L, 2008, BTEC National Health and Social Care Book 2, page 7) The early detection of a disease can prove useful, as it can provide insight on the cause and the spread of the disease along with being able to highlight any potential risks that the disease may cause to an individual or group of people; especially in vulnerable people such as young children, and the elderly. Young children and the elderly are more susceptible to disease due to their immune system being much weaker than the average individual; therefore it is important in the early detection of an infection in order to stop this from occurring.

Isolating individuals with communicable diseases enables to remain controlled, in order to reduce and prevent the risk of spreading the disease. A resident residing in a care home that was diagnosed with tuberculosis for example, would be moved to a room on their own, in order to ensure that the disease is not then passed to another service user within the home is one example.

Containing a disease can occur at a national and local level; this can occur once the source of the infection has been identified and plan has been developed and put in place in order to reduce the risk of the disease reoccurring. The measures that are taken in which to contain the disease can vary from short, medium, to long term measures. (Baker L, 2008, BTEC National Health and Social Care Book 2, page 7)

Short term measures – limited visiting, unnecessary travel, treatment and isolation Medium/long term measures – immunisation programme, appropriate medical treatment, educating individuals about the risks, eradicating incidence of disease where it proves possible to do so

Eradicating disease is now becoming possible due to advances in research and technology. Advances in technology means that more is known about the causes of illness and disease along with how the disease is spread. This advance has been made possible through the use of early detection and surveillance, monitoring, screening, treatment and immunisation programmes, health education and promotion. (Baker L, 2008, BTEC National Health and Social Care Book 2, page 8)

Promote the health of the population – Health promoters are tasked with the promoting the health of the population on a local and national scale. Health promoters are based in a variety of settings, such as, GP surgeries, drop-in centres, radio, magazines and schools. They are prioritised on local need and the availability of funding for the necessary resources. These priorities can be identified through the number of reported illnesses and diseases through local statistics.

Any illnesses or diseases taken from the statistics prove to be either life threatening or cause an individual to spend a substantial amount of time in hospital would then be given top priority in the promoting of health. Individuals who may be overweight can potentially be at risk of coronary heart disease later on in life. The health promoter would thereby ensure that diets and exercise are promoted through the use of proper channel on both a local and national level.

Planning and evaluating the national provision of health and social care – The National provision of Health and Social care within the UK is planned and evaluated by the National Health Service and Social Services. This is based on the information provided by health and social care professionals on a local, regional and national scale across the UK. ‘The government have produced guidelines and information to state how they will tackle the problems controlling and preventing infectious disease spread.’ (Baker L, 2008, BTEC National Health and Social Care Book 2, page 8) The strategies outlined in the guidelines by the government are a series of proposed actions in order to create a system in which to prevent, investigate and control the threat of infectious diseases and to address health protection on a wider scale.

M1 – Describe the origins of public health policy in the UK from the 19th century to the present day.

In this essay I will compare two different health measures in the 19th century and how they have made an impact on society today. I am also going to compare and explain the living conditions of towns and cities in the 19th, 20th and 21st century. Public health has developed considerably over the years and the changes that have occurred overtime reflect on the health concerns of the nation during each time period. These changes are what have produced the Public Health system that is currently in place today. Over the year’s vast amounts of medical knowledge of today’s health professionals have increased in response as to how diseases are spread, along with the advances in medicine that have aided in helping to reduce the incidence of infectious diseases.

During the 19th century the living conditions were exceedingly poor and there were various health issues of which include overcrowding in housing and overcrowding in general, thereby resulting in the spread of disease.

The Poor Law Act (1834) was established in 1834. The Poor Law was designed in order to reduce the cost of looking after the poor and impose a system which would be the same all across the country. The industrial revolution led to the development of towns and cities across the UK. The population of the nation had increased rapidly once the Poor Law Act was implemented. The country’s poverty relief system had not been amended since 1601, before finally coming into play as a result of Edwin Chadwick, John Snow.

The Public Health Act was first implemented in 1848 in order to ensure that sanitary conditions were provided for in populated areas across the UK. In response to the Public Health Act 1848 The General Board of Health was developed so as to ensure that all public health policies that were administered were carried out as effectively as possible. Edwin Chadwick was the first commissioner of the board. The implementation of the act allowed for authorities working with civil engineers and medics to improve sanitation. (Baker L, 2008, BTEC National Health and Social Care Book 2, page 14)

Edwin Chadwick (1800-1890) was accredited for his work on the reformation of the Poor Law. Edwin Chadwick was appointed by the government to carry out investigations and research into current sanitation. Chadwick wrote a report outlining his findings known as ‘The Sanitary Conditions of the Labouring Population’ published in 1842. In his report Chadwick argued that disease had a direct link to living conditions. After the report was produced new measures were taken in order to help promote the safe disposal of human waste and rubbish. Chadwick believed that poor sanitary conditions caused disease.

John Snow (1813-1858) was a British physician commended for his work in relation to the cholera outbreak in 1854. Snow was an anaesthetist and epidemiologist interested in the practices of cleanliness and hygiene put in place to help prevent disease. Snow formed the link between the cholera outbreak to the contaminated water residing in the water pump in Broad Street. In 1854, Snow identified that a water pump in Broad Street located near one of the cess pits was what was contaminating the water; thereby linking the Broad Street pump as the outbreak site of the disease. Higher mortality rates were linked to the Broad Street pump. ‘He had the handle of the pump removed, and cases of cholera immediately began to diminish.’

Throughout the 20th century more Acts and Reforms were put in place in order to reduce the risk of spreading infection that led to illness and disease among the UK population. This included; Beveridge Report (1942), NHS (1946), Black Report (1980), Acheson Report (1998), Our Health Nation (1997), Saving Lives: Our Healthier Nation (1999).

William Beveridge (1879-1963) produced ‘The Beveridge Report’ in 1942, which went on to become the basis of a series of reforms after the Second World War, by looking into way on reducing inequalities in the health care provision. This report has been used as the foundation for most social legislation. The Beveridge Report was a major influence in the introduction of The Welfare State along with The National Health Service founded in 1949. The Beveridge report focused on sanitation and ways to improve and change the educational standards of areas which were highly affected by poverty. The report suggested that the working class gave a share of their wages in order to aid those who did not work, those of which who were either sick, unemployed, retired or widowed were then given these contributions.

The government tasked Beveridge with the developing a report that was based on the ways that Britain should be rebuilt once the Second World War ended. The report was published in 1942 and provided recommendations to the government in order to find ways of tackling the five ‘Giant Evils’ known as ‘Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness.’

Edwin Chadwick 1842, William Beveridge 1942 and the White Paper Report: making healthier choices easier attempted to improve overall public health. Whereas Chadwick focused on poverty, Beveridge focused on sanitation and the White Paper was specific to health.

Beveridge and the White Paper Report: making healthier choices easier focused on poverty and how it affected a person’s overall health. Whereas in the Beveridge report he chose to write about The Welfare State, whilst the White Paper talked about reducing inequalities to health.

John Snow and the White Paper Report both used statistics in order to provide evidence in order to give insight into the condition of public health and what need attention before giving suggestions on how to improve it.

Works Cited

Public Health. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.gov.uk/government/topics/public-health.

Wright, J., Williams, R., & Wilkinson, J. (1998, April 28 ). BMJ Health needs assessment. British Medical Journal, 1310-1313.

Anon, (2014). [online] Available at: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/education/lesson08.htm) [Accessed 3 Oct. 2014].

Bbc.co.uk, (2014). BBC – History – Historic Figures: John Snow (1813 – 1858). [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/snow_john.shtml [Accessed 3 Oct. 2014].

Bbc.co.uk, (2014). BBC – History – William Beveridge. [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/beveridge_william.shtml [Accessed 3 Oct. 2014].

Spartacus Educational, (2014). Edwin Chadwick. [online] Available at: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/PHchadwick.htm [Accessed 3 Oct. 2014].

wiseGEEK, (2014). What is an Epidemiologist? (with pictures). [online] Available at: http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-an-epidemiologist.htm [Accessed 4 Oct. 2014].

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