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Public health is about helping people to stay healthy and protecting them from threats to their health.

This may include actions to help individuals make healthier choices, as well as actions to deal with the wider factors which have an impact on the health of larger groups of people.

Public health became a statutory function of local councils in 2013 through the Health and Social Care Act (2012).

The main aims of public health

Public health has three primary function domains:

  1. Health protection - Protecting people’s health from environmental and biological threats. This includes work around clean air, water and food, infectious disease control, protection against environmental health hazards, chemical incidents and emergency response.
  2. Health improvement - Improving people’s health and reducing health inequalities. These inequalities are the avoidable, unfair and systematic differences in health between different groups of people, and ensure greater fairness in the length and quality of people’s lives. The King's Fund has more information about health inequalities.
  3. Health services - Ensuring health services are the most effective, efficient and equitable.

Through these domains, public health ultimately aims to increase the healthy life expectancy of the population, and reduce differences in this expectancy between communities.

The function of our Public Health team

Our Public Health team is multi-disciplinary. It includes doctors, public health specialists and other professionals.

The team seek to improve the health and wellbeing of Richmond residents and reduce health inequalities between different groups, so that residents can lead longer, healthier and more fulfilling lives.

We aim to do this by:

  1. Building resilience - Increasing the ability of individuals, communities and services to address health needs and cope with future health challenges.
  2. Prevention of health inequalities - Addressing the factors which contribute to the risk of poorer health outcomes and cause health inequalities between different groups. This includes measures to improve health literacy and tackle the wider determinants of health, including education, access to employment and good housing.
  3. Protection against emerging threats to health - Providing system-wide leadership to protect the population against infectious and non-infectious threats to health. This includes measures to increase vaccine uptake and cancer screening, protect against non-infectious environmental hazards and improve air quality in the borough.

Life-course approach

Richmond Public Health Division takes a life-course approach to improving public health. Across a person’s life-course, their health and wellbeing will be influenced by the wider determinants of health. These are a diverse range of social, economic and environmental factors, alongside behavioural risk factors, which may positively or negatively influence health or wellbeing.

A life-course approach to health and wellbeing will consider the critical stages, transitions and settings in a person’s life where large differences can be made by promoting or restoring health and wellbeing. This means identifying key opportunities for minimising risk factors and enhancing protective factors at key life stages, from preconception to early years and adolescence, working age, and into older age.

Find out more about the life-course approach.


The Public Health Division works closely with colleagues across the Council, the wider health and social care system and voluntary, community and private sector organisations to provide guidance and strategic oversight to embed the public health approach.

Updated: 27 February 2023

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