Health Boss Maria Battle Answers Your Questions - Part 3
TheSprout has teamed up with the Cardiff Partnership for a series of interviews with the leaders of Cardiff's main institutions, and this week we interviewed the Chairperson for the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board (CVUHB), Maria Battle.
We asked for your questions and we only went and ruddy asked them. So without further ado here's the person in charge of health in Cardiff answering your questions on paying for the NHS, the effect of immigration, and what the CVUHB is doing to support our ageing population.
(Maria provided really detailed to all of your questions, so we've had to break this interview down into a few articles. Keep checking back to find the answer to your question.)
Healthy Inequalities (Public Health)
Q15. What is being done to reduce the differences in life expectancies across Cardiff? For example, residents in Lisvane are expected to live 10 -13 years longer than those living in the wards of Splott or Butetown.
- Life expectancy at birth has reached its highest level on record, yet across many local areas of Cardiff there are still unacceptable differences in healthy life expectancy
- This is the result of a wide range of causes, some of which we can tackle and some which are outside of the NHS's control. Tackling inequality in life expectancy will take action at individual, institutional and organisational levels
- The NHS can directly influence key factors such as healthy lifestyles, healthy pregnancies and the early years. Smoking rates vary considerably throughout Cardiff, for example, and smoking-related illness is one of the main causes of early death and inequalities.
- The way people access care also contributes to inequalities in health and we are working to improve equity of access to our services.
- We also work closely with partners such as Cardiff Council and the Third Sector to address some of the other major causes of health inequalities, such as poverty, education, housing and the physical environment. The Cardiff "What Matters?" Strategy describes how we are working jointly to tackle these issues. We need to continually review what works and what more we can be doing collectively to improve outcomes for all our citizens.
Q16. What was, or is Cardiff & Vale's Ebola plan? How does a health board go about planning for a disease like Ebola? What's the current threat level with regards to Ebola (where has it gone?!)?
- We have a network of key clinical staff who have received specialist training in the care and treatment of patients with highly infectious diseases. Our team of expert Infectious Disease Consultants work closely with Public Health Wales to monitor any risks identified by the World Health Organisation.
- We have constructed a purpose built reception / decontamination facility and a number of dedicated inpatient isolation facilities.
- Regular updates on the international situation are published by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and by the World Health Organisation. The most recent report states that there were 3 confirmed cases of Ebola virus disease reported in the week to 30 August: 2 in Guinea and 1 in Sierra Leone. The case in Sierra Leone is the first in the country for over 2 weeks.
Q17. How does the Cardiff & Vale University Health Board plan for major emergencies, like terrorist attacks? (Could we please witness and report on a future drill/run-through?)
- In conjunction with partner organisations like Police, Ambulance Service and local authorities, we are members of the Local Resilience Forum. We work together to assess the risk of threats and hazards that face the people of South Wales, and plan to deal with the impacts.
- We are working closely with the Police and Security Forces to address the risk of extremism and terrorism. Due to the extremely sensitive nature of this work there would not be an opportunity to observe drills.
Personal, Social and Health Education (Public Health)
Q18. Do you believe there should be compulsory sex education in primary schools, like MP's on a recent Commons select committee suggested?
- It is important to note that sex education is not just about reproduction and puberty changes. Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) includes education on sex but also on relationships. It is essential that primary school children learn about positive friendships and relationships and the diversity of families and relationships
- Currently in Wales, sex (but not relationships) education is compulsory in primary schools as part of the science curriculum. Primary schools can provide a broader SRE programme but whether they do so is at the discretion of the school's governing body.
- Compulsory SRE in primary schools would ensure that all children have access to high quality and age appropriate sex and relationships education
- There is often a misconception that SRE in primary school only teaches children about sexual intercourse. Good SRE in primary schools should help children to understand friendship and the different types of relationships including diversity and difference, growing and changing, and sexual reproduction and staying safe
Q19. Several of our young volunteers have expressed concerns about the quality of sexual health education in secondary schools and how sex education teaching seems to be different in different schools. Do you believe there is enough information on sexual health in schools? Should sex education be standardised across all schools?
- In Wales it is a statutory requirement in all maintained secondary schools that sex education forms part of the basic curriculum. However, there is currently variation in the amount and content of SRE pupils receive from school to school
- It is essential that young people are aware of sexual health, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), risky behaviour and how to protect themselves from catching an STI. There are many barriers that may prevent young people accessing sexual health services. SRE should give young people the opportunity to learn how to access these services in a non judgemental way. SRE should also provide details of C Card schemes to pupils to allow them access to free condoms.
- Standardisation of SRE would ensure that all pupils were given access to high quality, age appropriate and up to date information. In Cardiff and the Vale every secondary school has access to an SRE handbook available from The Healthy Schools Team. This provides schools with lesson plans and up to date information with the aim of helping standardise the content of lessons, if schools choose to use it.
By ClkerFreeVectorImages [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
Q20. When will LGBT+ sex, relationship and HIV education be fully integrated into school sex-education?
- All pupils, whatever their sexuality, should already be offered non-judgemental, accurate and effective sex and relationships education. This should include sexual health information, STIs and relationships, and LGBT and HIV information. If you have any concerns these issues are not being addressed you can speak to your School Council, Healthy Schools co-ordinator or PSHE lead in the first instance.
- Some sexual behaviours are more risky than others and this should be discussed in SRE lessons to ensure that young people can make informed choices about their behaviour.
- Information about local C Card schemes should be provided by schools so that young people know how to access free condoms.
- Schools should also inform young people about sexual health services and how to access them and help to break down the fears and misconceptions that many young people have about confidentiality, sexual health testing and treatment.
Part 4 will be up soon! Keep checking back to see what the answer was to your question...
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