Agenda item

Annual Director of Public Health Report


Tessa Lindfield presented the Annual Director of Public Health report.


The report, entitled Berkshire: A good place to work, focussed on ensuring a healthy workforce. This included having workers who felt fulfilled and motivated, and who earnt enough money to live well.  


Tessa presented the following statistics:

·         1% of employees in Berkshire lived in large businesses, and this 1% represented 38% of Berkshire employees.

·         The public sector represented a significant proportion of employees in Berkshire.

·         Half of Berkshire employees were in the top 3 groups of employment, and Berkshire was over represented in terms of senior workers.

·         A quarter of workers were in professional occupations.

·         69% of men aged 16-24 who were able to work were employed, compared to 96% of men aged 25-49 who were able to work were employed.

·         61% of disabled people who were fit and able to work in Berkshire were in employment, compared to a national average of 55%.  

·         There was a high rate of unemployment for disabled people who were able to work, at 7.5%.


Tessa also reported that Bracknell Forest had increased inequity in terms of getting people with mental illnesses back into work. Partners were asked to consider whether there was anything which could be done in their organisations to assist those with mental illnesses back into work.


Tessa presented data on the years in good and poor health. In Bracknell Forest, it was expected that men would live for 67.8 years in good health (compared to 63.4 years in England), and 13.9 years in poor health (compared to 16.2 years in England). This data was based on self-reporting and actual life expectancy in each borough. Partners noted that the years of good health were similar to the retirement age, and that as the average age of the workforce increased, the workforce would not be as ‘well’ in future.


Partners agreed that there were a number of early death category in Berkshire which were preventable. It was commented that early deaths in Berkshire did not reflect the demand for treatment in Bracknell Forest, where respiratory conditions were the largest demand.


It was noted that while sickness absence had increased, presenteeism was a more significant issue. Only 30% of managers took measures to prevent presenteeism, and HR policies across the borough did not necessarily reflect good practice.


Tessa explained that the primary learning from the report was that HR policies formed the bedrock of worker wellbeing in the workplace.


It was noted that the report included a number of organisations exhibiting best practice for wellbeing in the workplace, including Thames Water who had developed a mental health support scheme for its employees.


Arising from discussion, the following points were noted:

·         It was noted that the changes in working times, patterns and trends was likely to have an impact on health, and that smaller companies were often better at supporting their colleagues.

·         The change in working patterns of men and women was likely to be impacting on families.

·         All partners agreed to share their HR policies regarding wellbeing to share best practice.

·         It was noted that the workforces needed to be well equipped to have challenging conversations with their colleagues and residents to provide mental health support.

·         Public Health England’s Workplace Health Needs Assessment  was recommended as a useful tool.


It was agreed that the next meeting would include an item for partners to bring their Health and Wellbeing policies to assess the position and identify best practice. (Action: All)


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