New year,new pastures

Here’s to 2015, which already looks like a promising year. With postgraduate studies completed and a new work opportunity with the Health Trainer Service in my city, I’m looking forward to putting my learned knowledge into practice to contribute effectively to helping reduce health inequalities.

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A glimpse of Public Health in local government: my reflections

As my time with Nottingham City Public Health nears its end and with postgraduate studies on the horizon, I thought now would be a good time to reflect on my time spent in the department, my work and skills discovered. First and foremost I have a further appreciation for data; the raw quantifier needed to establish where you are at before you can even begin to determine where you are going, or where strategic diversions are needed. When scoping the prevalence of certain eye conditions, working with city population estimates deduced from estimated national prevalence figures has proved challenging. My MPH studies are sure to improve my understanding on the methods used when dealing with such data, recognising its limitations but also its value when needed.  Secondly I’ve been able to see just how interconnected public health work is within nearly all sections of local government involved in improving aspects of public society. Collaborations were found within different sections of the same department, between other departments (e.g.commissioning teams) and with external bodies, including arms of the voluntary sector. Together they form an extensive network of interwoven working relationships. I encountered and liaised with individuals in all the above sectors and so the importance of working together was clearly evident in my work on vision loss within the city. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Public Health team and I wish them all the best in their projects.

Public Health – the ‘wide net’ approach

Last week I started some additional work outside of the University,with Nottingham City Public Health. In healthcare it is easy to turn immediate focus to those at the extremes, expending maximum resource to bring them into the band of majority. For instance, the drive to tackle obesity often prioritises those who are medically overweight (morbidly obese) as this category is seen as high risk. Public health allows the scope to attempt to influence and change the behaviour of the majority for the better, less concerned with exclusively medical interventions but, instead,  turning attention to changes in lifestyle and other health risk contributors (in the case of obesity). The results may not be as drastic as those seen in at the extremes, but the impact is widespread amongst a given population.

My first project will look at the needs of those most at risk from sight loss within the city’s population. This work will form part of an overview of Sensory Impairments in Nottingham, in light of the Public Health Outcomes Framework. Better get reading!

Moral issues in doctor-patient interactions about obesity

This week, I attended a seminar presented by Helen Webb on perceptions of obesity and the importance of analysing patient-health professional perception of the condition.  Helena described the importance of looking at obesity less from the angle directed by the word’s medical definition, and more towards sociological undertones.  I particularly enjoyed the parts of the presentation that discussed the moral and political models of obesity, often fed to us by media and popular culture. These have contributed to the ways we shape success, achievement and creditworthy behaviour in relation the obesity and weight loss.