Skip to main content

Shaping healthy places: Exploring the district council role in health

This publication presents case study examples showing how district councils have improved the health of their local areas. The beginning of the report offers a short contextual discussion of the impact of the social determinants of health and ways in which district councils can influence health.

Prevention and the social determinants of health

We all accept that our current health and social care system is unsustainable and will buckle under the weight of demand unless we re-engineer our planning and services to promote healthy choices, prevent sickness and intervene early to minimise the need for costly hospital treatment.

Keeping people well and independent is crucial to reducing demand on pressured services and increasing evidence highlights that the wider social determinants of health have the largest impact on how long and well people live, far above medical care. The diagram below shows the impact that districts have on the social determinants of health.

As the diagram shows, it is more important than ever to fully engage with district councils who, through their key preventative services, can shift pressure from medical models of care towards a more holistic, person centered approach based on wellbeing and lifestyle choices.

Through their housing, planning and growth powers, parks and open spaces, leisure and cultural services, districts can contribute to the quality of the built and social environment. They have specific duties and powers to promote equality and social inclusion as well as social, economic and environmental well-being.

Districts are collaborative and can link up local service provision; they work in partnership with social care services, the NHS, local volunteer groups, businesses and other agencies such as the police to support public health. In short, district councils make a very important contribution to weaving the social fabric of their areas and seeking to create and sustain healthy places for people to be born, grow, live, work and age.