DHSC calls for NHS and councils to work more closely on public health

11 Jun 19

The government urged for public health services’ commissioning to be more joined-up, as it confirmed the responsibility would remain with local authorities.

A review on public health services, conducted by the Department of Health and Social Care, concluded services will be more join-up if local authorities and NHS work more closely together on public health.

Prevention must also be embedded in a wide range of health services, the department added.

Health secretary Matt Hancock, unveiling the results of the review at the Royal Society of Medicine last week, said: “Day in, day out, local authorities continue to provide excellent public health services.

“Whether that’s local action to reduce HIV transmissions or experimenting with innovative ways to reach people for sexual health services – such as offering online access to testing for thousands of people.”

He added: “We are committed to supporting and encouraging joined-up commissioning of these services by local government and the NHS.”

Hancock noted that local authorities have taken steps to improve and modernise the services they commission, including through digital delivery, such as online STI testing.

Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England, said: “This review recognises that local government are best placed to lead on commissioning local public health services and the invaluable skill and expertise they bring to this.

“The best services are always those commissioned collaboratively with the NHS and this review emphasises the importance of this for every part of England, as does the NHS Long term Plan, including making the best use of shared resources.”

Ian Hudspeth, chair of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, said: “Commissioning of sexual health, reproductive health and HIV services is complex. The only way forward is through a whole system approach where together we commission services in a more collaborative way.

“Demand for sexual health services continues to grow and, particularly with the ongoing financial pressures facing local authorities, it is essential that the public health system works together to the deliver the best value for the population and ensure we have a strong service with ease of access and joined up support.”

The government reviewed the commissioning of public health as part of its NHS Long Term Plan.

CIPFA recently called for a shift towards prevention in public health spending.

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