Ministers clarify councils' public health duties
By Vivienne Russell | 15 July 2011
Upper-tier councils in England will take over responsibility
for providing access to sexual health services, the national child measurement
programme and the NHS’s health check assessments, ministers have confirmed.
Following a three‑month consultation on the public health
white paper Healthy lives, healthy people, the
Department of Health yesterday issued a policystatement offering further clarification of its plans. This included more
detail on the role of local government, which is to assume new public health
Local authorities will be required to appoint a director of
public health, who will have a duty to ensure there are plans in place to
protect the health of the local population. The statement says the director of
public health should be of chief officer status, reporting directly to the
Councils will also be responsible for ensuring NHS commissioners
receive the public health advice that they need.
On funding, the policy statement says resources need to be
ring‑fenced to ‘promote a strategic approach to spend on prevention’. But
details of how funds will be split between local authorities, NHS commissioners
and the budget of a new national body, Public Health England, are still being
Public health grants for upper‑tier councils will be made
for the first time in 2013/14, and shadow allocations for 2012/13 will be made
by the end of the year.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said: ‘A new public health
system with strong local and national leadership is essential to help save more
lives, improve people’s health and wellbeing and to reduce health inequalities
that exist across the country.
‘Based on an understanding of the wider determinants of
health, the new system will focus on the outcomes we want to achieve, with
local authorities able to tailor services to best meet the needs of their
He added: ‘The white paper generated real enthusiasm for a
new approach to public health, which we will now develop, with local
authorities leading local health and wellbeing strategies.’
A Local Government Association spokesman told Public Finance, that while local
authorities were ‘broadly in favour’ of the public health reforms, there was
still a lack of clarity about funding and where some staff groups would work.