Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2020 to 2023

Last updated 8 July 2024

Role of the board

The Dorset Council Health and Wellbeing Board presents an opportunity to join up local services, create new partnerships for prevention and deliver greater democratic accountability.

The purpose of the board is to improve health and wellbeing and reduce health inequalities. The board takes the lead in making sure all organisations consider how best to deliver prevention at scale.

The board is made up of people from a range of organisations, including council officers and elected members, NHS officers, local GPs from the Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group and representatives from the police, fire and rescue service and voluntary sector.

The Health and Wellbeing Board uses development sessions and formal business meetings to drive work forward and meet the following aims:

  • increase healthy life expectancy, currently 64 years for males and 67 for females (actual life expectancy is 81 years for men and 84 years for women)
  • make sure all partners and communities work effectively together to improve health and wellbeing, especially for those most disadvantaged and make best use of our resources
  • make sure that all children and young people have opportunities to have the best start in life
  • make sure, in all the board does, we recognise and address the climate emergency

The current context

When the Health and Wellbeing Board met in 2019 and early 2020, we discussed its critical role in delivering the council’s corporate strategy, and how we will engage partners to help us to deliver the corporate vision and objectives for the benefit of our communities.

Since March, the pandemic has caused disruption to life locally, nationally and globally and has affected our lives like nothing before. We have kept our themes and priority areas under review to ensure they reflect the changing situation.

Dorset Council has a local outbreak management plan which sets out how local agencies will identify, respond to and contain any local outbreaks. Alongside its usual role, the board has an important part to play in overseeing this plan.

The health and wellbeing strategy focuses on three priorities:

  • empowering communities
  • promoting healthy lives
  • support and challenge

As part of our priority to promote healthy lives, we will focus our efforts on physical activity.


Empowering communities

Priority one - engaging with and empowering communities to improve healthy life expectancy

We will work with partners to:

  • develop an engagement plan with each community Develop a partnership framework which secures the contribution of all relevant partners in each local area
  • develop, with local communities, effective ways to understand the impact of our work using established measures
  • place emphasis on our communities in greatest need such as Weymouth and Portland, whilst recognising that inequalities exist in all the communities across Dorset

Overall life expectancy for men and women in Dorset is higher than the England average. There is local variation, of 11.4 years for men and 16.4 years for women between the most and least deprived areas.

Healthy life expectancy, based on how long people are expected to live in self reported good health, is higher for men and women in Dorset than the England average. Overall, the time between healthy life expectancy and overall life expectancy is 16.9 years for men and 17.6 years for women.

12.8% of children in Dorset live in low income households. This ranges from 2.3% in Lower Tarrants to 46% in Underhill ward.

Dorset averages 47,000 emergency hospital admissions each year. The standardised admissions ratio (England is 100, above 100 indicates higher than average) ranges from 68 in Lyme Regis and Charmouth to 134 in Grange.


Promoting healthy lives

Priority two - set priorities to accelerate work promoting healthy lives and wellbeing

The board's intention was to set annual themes for promoting healthy lives. Due to COVID-19 we have decided for the remainder of the strategy period to focus on physical activity to ensure more time to embed plans and make an impact.

We will:

  • learn from best practice
  • develop a programme of engagement to gain commitment to actions
  • evaluate impacts over time

Our key theme is physical activity.

"If exercise were a pill, it would be one of the most cost-effective drugs ever invented," says Dr Nick Cavill, a health promotion consultant.

Over 320,000 people across the county of Dorset have at least one long term health condition. We know that people with long term health conditions are twice as likely to be inactive.

The cost of inactivity to NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group is estimated to be £6.5 million per year.

Due to COVID-19, there has been significant disruption in the physical activity behaviours of adults and children in England. Emerging data is showing a decline in activity levels related to changes to patterns of behaviour. The number of adults in Dorset who are inactive has risen by 5,000 and the number of inactive children and young people has rise by 26,000 as a result of the pandemic.


Support and challenge

Priority three - provide governance and support to our partners, prioritising the delivery of key partnership outcomes

We will work with partners to:

  • improve outcomes for children, young people and young adults who have special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)
  • promote effective safeguarding arrangements for children and vulnerable adults
  • ensure that the significant structural changes in local NHS services deliver improved outcomes for local communities
  • improve outcomes for local people through closer integration between health and social care services


In the Dorset Council area there are 1,793 children and young people aged 0-19 with a statement of educational need (SEN) or an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). The gender split in Dorset is 74% male and 26% female.

However, census data shows a more even burden of long term illness and disability between males and females, particularly those aged 15 to 24 years.

Children and young people with a statement of SEN or EHCP tend to do less well academically than their peers across all phases of education. In Dorset, there are particular challenges at Key Stage 2.

In 2017, 16% of Dorset pupils with SEN support achieved the expected standards in reading, writing and maths compared to 21% nationally.

For those with a statement of SEN or EHC plan the Dorset figure was 7%, compared to 8% nationally. Research by the Department for Education (2011) states that disabled young people are less satisfied with their lives than their peers.

Our Vision:

Children and young people with SEND have confidence in the support they receive. We work together to give them the best chance to succeed; enjoy family life and go to school as close to home as possible.

We support them to maximise their potential at home, in early years, at school and at college and to prepare well for adulthood.

Our young adults with SEND have opportunities to work, live independently, participate in their community and live full, healthy lives.

Measuring impacts

Measuring impacts is an important element of the work of the board and its partners. The board will work with partner agencies to understand and agree which indicators can be used to track progress in our work.

The board will consider how to measure each element of the plan most effectively to demonstrate the impact to local people.

This will include:

  • improving health and wellbeing in communities of highest need
  • the impacts of partnership working on our key themes
  • progress in increasing healthy life expectancy

Expected outcomes

People living in our priority communities will have more opportunities to access support to improve their health and wellbeing, and lead healthier lives.

We will support more people to look after their mental health, preventing the build up of serious mental health problems.

For those who need further mental health support, we will support more people to access the services they need.

We will also promote the importance of physical activity to improve mental health as well as reducing risk of serious illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and now COVID-19.


This strategy is currently under review.