Public Health England – A new service to get people healthy
Yet another daily ‘initiative’ from Andrew Lansley – setting up another organisation: Public Health England.
Does anyone else wish the Dept. Health would get on with dealing with the NHS and its problems, rather than come up with these interminable ‘initiatives’?
The Press Release says, “this will be part of the Department of Health – to ‘supervise health programs (sic) in the country like vaccination drives, screening for condition and family nurses’.
Er – isn’t this what the NHS is supposed to do already? And if they are going to copy American spelling, what about copying U.S. best medical care?
I notice the Welsh and the Scots have decided not to be involved. Do they know something we don’t?
What’s it going to do?
Lansley says, “a radical plan to go further and faster in tackling today’s causes of premature death and illness and reduce health inequalities, with a public health service to make it happen”.
Public Health England will be created as a service that gives more power to local people over their health, whilst keeping a firm national grip on crucial population-wide issues such as flu pandemics.
Yet, anyone who believes that this will actually mean us patients can actually have more control over how and where our money is spent – dream on. Instead, I see this a yet more chances for little Empire builders to get their hands on emergency cash, whenever there is a supposed crisis. Anyone remember Swine Flu? Asian flu? etc. etc. No-one has told us how much those panics cost us.
The White Paper, Healthy Lives, Healthy People also sets out how funding from the overall NHS budget will be ring-fenced for spending on public health – a recognition that prevention is better than cure. Early estimates suggest that current spend on areas that are likely to be the responsibility of Public Health England could be in the range of £4 billion.
They say, “for the first time in a generation, central Government will not hold all the purse strings”. But as patients we won’t get to say where the money is spent: “the majority of public health services will be commissioned by Local Authorities from their ring-fenced budget, or by the NHS, all funded from Public Health England’s new public health budget”. So instead of Whitehall spending our money, it’s local NHS Admin – in my book that is same i.e. we don’t get any say in how the money is spent.
Mr Lansley said:
“Too often in the past, public health budgets have been raided by the NHS to tackle deficits. Not any more. The money will be ringfenced to be used as it should be – for preventing ill health.
“People’s health and wellbeing will be at the heart of everything local councils do. It’s nonsense to think that health can be tackled on its own. Directors of Public Health will be able to champion local cooperation so that health issues are considered alongside housing, transport, and education.
“Everyone should have services tailored for them, at the right times in their life from the professionals closest to them. With local authorities in the driving seat, supported by the latest evidence on behaviour change from Public Health England, we will start seeing significant improvements in the nation’s health.”
Oh Lansley – will you still be Minister when your chickens come home to roost?
What Government will and won’t do
The Government will take a less intrusive approach, staying out of people’s everyday lives wherever possible. This follows a model called the Nuffield Council of Bioethics Ladder of Interventions, which means that instead of reaching for choice-limiting regulations at every opportunity, the Government will employ a range of evidence based approaches to improve health.
Lovely long words – what it really means is local officials get to dip their fingers in the pie.
Local control, better health
Directors of Public Health will be employed by the Local Authority and be the ambassadors of health issues for the local population. In practice, this means that they will lead discussion about how the ring-fenced money is spent to improve health. This will include influencing investment decisions right across the Local Authority, with the goal of enhancing health and well-being.
Crucially, they will be able to make sure that public health is always considered when local authorities, GP consortia and the NHS make decisions.
To make sure that progress is made on issues like obesity and smoking, Public Health England will set a series of outcomes to measure whether people’s health actually improves.
Bemused? So am I – but supposedly you can get answers by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
And am I out of order, thinking it would be better if Dept. Health staff attended to in-trays, rather than spending time in focus groups, meetings, etc. thinking up new ideas? We don’t need them new ideas, there were enough of those in the past that went nowhere. What we need is a sensible overhaul of the present system.
And this wonderful whitewas won’t do anything to save the jobs of 126 Senior Nurses, CNS, head of Physio teams, etc. who are about to lose their jobs in our area. They are deemed to come under Administration – and Cameron in is warped wisdom said that he wanted to get rid of a layer of Admin.
Hasn’t anyone told him he is a babe in arms when it comes to dealing with the NHS top brass?