The Government has announced a new vision for public health which promises stronger action to improve health and wellbeing for communities across Swindon.
NHS Swindon and Swindon Borough Council already work closely together to provide public health services led by the Joint Director of Public Health, Dr Jenny Harries. The vision is for all local public health services to transfer to the Council which already contributes to the health of the population through services such as housing, environmental health and leisure.
Public health professionals will continue to provide advice and leadership around key challenges such as reducing harm from tobacco and alcohol, improving sexual health and ensuring that people in the town are protected from disease and the impact of major incidents.
This white paper forms part of the Government’s reform of NHS services, which will include the abolition of primary care trusts such as NHS Swindon by April 2013.
Welcoming the new approach outlined in the White Paper, Joint Director of Public Health for Swindon, Dr Jenny Harries said: ‘For some time staff from both the NHS and Council have been working together in Swindon to provide high quality services to the population. The vision outlined in the white paper is an opportunity to expand on this and make a lasting difference to the health and quality of life to many people.
‘The hard work of everyone in NHS Swindon will be a strong basis for a future of public health in Swindon and we will be able to transfer much of the skills and knowledge across into a new way of working that is more efficient. We have the prospect of developing programmes that will have the greatest benefit for local people, particularly for those who are vulnerable and suffer the worst health outcomes.
‘We will be discussing the detail of the White Paper with everyone in Swindon over the coming months and together we can create an exciting local vision for change with lasting benefits.’
The transfer of local public health teams from the NHS to local government will take place by April 2013.
Local communities are being encouraged to take part in the consultation that will now take place on the White Paper. This is an opportunity to influence how health and wellbeing can be improved across local communities. People can log on to the national consultation pages to find out more: http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publichealth/Healthyliveshealthypeople/index.htm
The White Paper for Public Health: Healthy Lives, Healthy People, suggests that there will be additional resources for areas with the greatest health and wellbeing needs in their population. There is also the prospect of financial rewards for those communities who can demonstrate significant improvements in people’s lives. Both of these areas will be carefully considered during local engagement events and activity and will be reflected in the local response to the White Paper.
Reducing the gap between those that have the best health and those that suffer from the poorest health outcomes will be a key task. A new national Public Health Service is to be established which will set out an overall framework for action but there will be greater flexibility in how local communities take action to achieve improvements.
The move of local public health from the NHS into Swindon Borough Council creates an opportunity to positively influence many factors that influence our day-to-day health and wellbeing for example education, transport, environmental sustainability and planning. However, despite the organisational change the NHS will continue to be a key part of preventing poor health and improving wellbeing and the vision for change will include a strong role for GP consortia and local healthcare providers.
Val Vaughan, chair of Swindon Local Involvement Network (LINk) steering group said, “we welcome the opportunity to work with the proposed new arrangements for public health.
"We particularly need to make sure local people are fully involved in planning what is best for our local population to reduce inequality. Luckily in Swindon the health service and Swindon borough council already work very closely together.
"These proposals for public health are just part of the organisational changes to health and care services planned for the next few years; and in the immediate future we are very worried about the real effect of cuts in services which are bound to have an impact”.