Healthy Environment Network

The Healthy Environment Network (HEN) is a forum linking those with an interest in, or influence upon, the interface between human health and the environment. The links include, and bridge sectors, organisations, professions and individuals. HEN promotes the understanding of environmental influences on health and how these can be addressed. This pages outlines background, organisation, activities and network composition.

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Background
Organisation
Activities
Network composition


Background

HEN grew from a recognition that health and wellbeing are influenced by complex interactions of many factors, including the physical, social and economic environments in which individuals live and work.

This growth is seeking more comprehensive understanding to inform effective action for change across a range of settings and sectors. Key themes in these developments have been the acceptance of complexity, a preference for inclusivity, and a willingness to consider alternatives. The complex interactions of determinants of the environment on human health has led to the use of the term ecological public health.

HEN encourages ecological multi-disciplinary and multi-agency thinking and working to address issues around the environment and health. It takes broad definitions of the environment and its influences of health.

The Healthy Environment Network aims to capture and communciate the enthusiasm for new approaches, together with a respect for evidence, in addressing issues across the interface between the health of the environment and human health. Key concepts at that interface include sustainability, environmental justice and intergenerational justice.

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Organisation

HEN was set up with the support of NHS Health Scotland, using administrative & facilitative resources which are accountable to NHS Scotland.

A Steering Group meets every two months to review and progress matters of interest, co-ordinate activities and organise an annual learning event. Members include representatives of key organisations and those co-opted for particular knowledge, experience or skills. Short term working subgroups may be formed to address particular issues for example preparing consultation responses on behalf of the network.

Outputs are posted on the website and/or circulated through the network mailing list. Events are evaluated and other activities are periodically reviewed. If you would like anything raised at a Steering Group meeting or would like to see notes of previous meetings of the Steering Group please contact the e-mail address.

The key organisational tool is a mailing list used to disseminate information and invite comment. The mailing list of the network is composed on indviduals with an interest in, or influence upon, the interface between human health and the environment and is administered by NHS Health Scotland.

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Activities

HEN acts as a forum for the exchange of information between sectors, organisations and professions.

The promotion of collaboration between practitioners, experts and polcy makers has been a particular strength. Scotland´s policy advances are attracting international attention

An annual learning event aims to build on previous work while addressing current priorities and to provide networking as well as learning opportunities.

Activities may be categorised as:

  • Improved understanding of the role of the environment in determining individual and community health, and promoting practical strategies for improving health through environmental factors
  • Engaging a wide range of sectoral, agency and professional perspectives in order to identify, understand and influence issues affecting the health of the population
  • Developing and strengthening practice by innovation, collaboration and sharing of good practice
  • Seeking to identify key policy windows, potential synergies, and other opportunities for influence and coordination
  • Recognising the special features of the Scottish context, including resources, opportunities, threats and barriers
  • Identifying relevant consultation documents and forming subgroups to draft responses
  • Facilitating rapid responses to informal queries and suggestions by circulation to the mailing list
  • Organising, evaluating and disseminating the outputs from an annual themed learning event

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Network composition

The Network is inclusive, recognising the wide range of professions and organisations that have the capacity to influence the environment in this way. The membership includes individuals from organisations such as local authorities, NHS health boards, Scottish Government, other public sector bodies, universities, third sector organisations and other networks.

If you require further information about the membership of HEN, please contact nhs.healthscotland-hen@nhs.net

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Reviewed 25 July 2014