THE county's health leaders should not rely on more money to solve a cocktail of health issues continuing to pile the pressure on public services, according to the director of public health.

Instead, innovation is the key says Dr John McWilliam as health and social care bosses continue to wrestle with a growing and ageing population, increasing obesity and workforce recruitment difficulties.

In his 11th annual Public Health report Dr McWilliam said: "We can't spend our way out of this situation, given the current financial situation, so we have to innovate our way out."

He added: "I think the main driver is change in the population.

"It's to do with more people, an ageing population, more obesity, more young children, more chronic disease and how we approach that with the resources we've got and getting the best value for the Oxfordshire pound, and that's why working in partnerships is a crucial element."

Currently Oxfordshire's population is growing by around 5,000 people per year with the over 85 population expected to increase by up to 80 per cent in some areas over the next 15 years.

More than half of the adult population is now overweight, according to Dr McWilliam, leading to an increase in chronic diseases such as diabetes.

The county must deliver more than 83,000 new homes by 2030 to meet demand, however house prices are currently way outstripping the national average with a distinct lack of affordable homes to house a workforce needed to support the growing population.

There are 500 nursing vacancies at any given time in Oxfordshire, the public health director pointed out.

Dr McWilliam admitted these factors were not new, however, and said there was evidence that authorities had already adopted a more cohesive approach.

He said: "The important point to report this year, is that people have taken notice and you can see the results.

"Organisations are working better in partnership.

"We have renewed our health and wellbeing board, the growth deal is bringing in more money and the Healthy New Towns in Bicester and Barton are pointing the way forward."

The NHS' 'healthy new towns' scheme, which encourages the use of parks, 'dementia friendly' public spaces and homes that remain suitable for people as they grow older, were an example of how planning and health must be intertwined in the future, said Dr McWilliam.

He said: "It takes time though for plans to mature so i suspect they have more to offer in the future.

"It's like watching a tree bear fruit and I think we've only just started to see the first crop."