THIS is my last health column for 2018, so I’d like to end the year on a high note and celebrate a significant achievement in the town.

We work very closely with our partners at Bolton Council and I was heartened to hear recently about the excellent work they are doing with our youngest citizens.

As a locality, our vision for children aged 0-5 is to ensure they get the best possible start in life so that they have every chance to succeed and be happy.

The good news is that outcomes for the early years’ group are improving in Bolton and we are narrowing the gap between us and Greater Manchester as a whole, the North West and the England average.

Collectively across the 10 Greater Manchester localities, we are aiming for all children at the end of Reception class to have a good level of development which matches the national average.

What this means is that by the age of five, children will have achieved set goals in relation to seven key areas: personal, social and emotional development, communication and language, physical development, literacy, maths, expressive arts and design, and understanding the world.

The Chief Inspector of Ofsted said just last week that in order to drive up standards we need to ‘get the basics right’, and in Bolton we are working incredibly hard to do just that.

The ‘basics’ start even before a child is born, and by working with our partners, such as the council, other NHS providers and the voluntary and community sector, we can engage with families who may need extra help.

Health visitors, GPs, social workers, childminders, nurseries, outreach workers and Start Well Children’s Centres – to name but a few – are united in their efforts to improve things for our youngsters and help them enjoy a bright future.

And it’s beginning to show!