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Becky Pollard, Bristol's new Director of Public Health

24 June 2015

Becky Pollard, new Director of Public Health in Bristol, talks about her priorities for improving health in the city and the importance of partnership working. This is part of a series of blogs, where key players in Bristol's health sector write about a health related subject of their choice. If you want to contribute, email zoe.trinder-widdess@bristolhealthpartners.org.uk.

Next month Public Health Bristol is hosting the city's first Alcohol Summit, which will bring together a whole host of different organisations to discuss ways to tackle the harm caused by alcohol.

The summit will give partners an opportunity to discuss where we are now, where we want to be, and how we get there - and is based on the premise that joined up working is the only way to achieve the best result for citizens in Bristol.

The importance of partnership working and making every contact count is something that's central to the success of Public Health's work and has been a key theme throughout my career.

I joined Bristol City Council in February as Director of Public Health after almost 30 years of developing and delivering health interventions in a variety of settings. This has included leading the integration of Public Health within North Somerset Council and establishing the UK's first multi-agency health partnership whilst working for Severn Deanery and Suffolk Health Authority, so I understand the importance of working together to achieve the best results.

Improving Public Health in a Core City is a complex task that requires a flexible approach, and there are some overarching themes that I'm especially keen to address.

Increasing physical activity in Bristol is one such priority as inactivity is now the fourth largest contributor to global mortality and costs the UK economy around £20 billion a year.

There's already some fantastic work taking place in Bristol to tackle this issue. For instance, the Supporting Healthy Inclusive Neighbourhood Environments Health Improvement Team (SHINE HIT) is helping to make Bristol healthier. It is doing this by integrating health, well-being and social inclusion with urban development, transport and planning, to reduce health risks and promote healthier lifestyles.

As European Green Capital 2015 we've already made great progress. A recent Active Cities report named Bristol as the most active city in the UK - and the eighth most active in the world. Living near a green space, as many Bristol residents do, was found to reduce the chance of stress by 30 per cent, and we have more people commuting to work by bicycle or on foot than any other city in England.

But there is still some way to go. In my mind, the key is to make it as easy as possible for people to make healthy lifestyle choices. Whether that's choosing what food to eat and how much exercise to take or going along to an NHS Health Check for those over 40 - the easier it is to be healthy, the more likely we are to make those positive decisions.

My ambition as Director of Public Health is to make these choices simple and accessible for everyone, working with our partners in every corner of the city to ensure people have access to the services, advice and support they need enjoy a good quality of life for longer.

Becky Pollard, Bristol's new Director of Public Health
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