Reading is a place of contrasts with affluent areas alongside places experiencing multiple deprivation. Whilst the population of the Borough of Reading is estimated at 163,000, the urban area around Reading had an estimated population of 318,014 (ONS, 2018) drawn to its business, shopping and transport facilities.
Reading has quite a young population including a university of nearly 16,000 students. The population is mobile and constantly changing, driven by international migration and a high birth rate. The expanding working age population and growing number of children are increasingly diverse with one in five residents from a minority ethnic group.
The Royal Berkshire Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is based in Reading with sites in Henley on Thames, Windsor, Bracknell and Newbury. Berkshire Healthcare Foundation Trust which runs mental health and community health services across the county has its main inpatient facility in the borough.
Reading’s public health team sits within the adults’ services and health directorate but works across all parts of the authority. The team uses the public health grant to pump prime and invest in services and interventions across the organisation, delivering against public health outcomes and overseen by the Public Health Board. There is a particular focus on early intervention to prevent the need for more specialised services and the organisation is seeking creativity and innovation to do things differently. Public Health is seen as ‘part of everything we do’ to best meet the needs of our residents.
The Health and Wellbeing Board meets regularly and is developing a collaboration with the other Boards in the west of the county on a range of shared projects. The priority areas for the Board are:
Improving healthy life expectancy and reducing inequalities
1. Supporting people to make healthy lifestyle choices (with a focus on tooth decay, obesity, physical activity and smoking)
2. Reducing loneliness and social isolation
3. Promoting positive mental health and wellbeing in children and young people
4. Reducing deaths by suicide
5. Reducing the amount of alcohol people drink to safe levels
6. Making Reading a place where people can live well with dementia
7. Increasing breast and bowel screening and prevention services
8. Reducing the number of people with tuberculosis
Reading’s public health team sits within the adults’ services and health directorate but works across all parts of the authority.