Integration 'key' to managing public health transition

Published on Tuesday, 15 May 2012 15:14
Posted by Scott Buckler

Tackling public health issues such as obesity and alcohol-related illness will need partnership and collaboration among a range of bodies, according to the Director of the Centre for Public Health Excellence at NICE

The public health landscape is due to change, with local authorities set to take over the role of commissioning some public health services from Primary Care Trusts in April 2013.

Among the problems they will need to tackle is the potential epidemic of non-communicable diseases, with diabetes, obesity, and smoking-related illness all continuing to pose problems for the NHS.Public Health England is the body that will be set up to help manage the transition though encouraging leadership at local level, providing services and help local authorities in their new roles.

Speaking at the NICE Annual Conference in Birmingham, Professor John Newton, Regional Director of Public Health England, said it will do this through making partnerships at local and national level among bodies such as NICE. This is to ensure activities are successfully integrated under one banner.

Professor Mike Kelly, Director of the Centre for Public Health at NICE, commented that local government will pick up a vast amount of the work for the new public health system.

He added that NICE will have an important role to play in this, through making its guidance a standard resource for public health responsibilities, and so providing an evidence base for developing guidance that is also cost-effective.

It will also be developing public health briefings that will allow local government to implement advice at a local level and help integrate local decision-making.

Professor Kelly added that industry, such as drinks manufacturers, will play a role in helping improve public health.

He said that given the nature of the problem, it would be "fanciful" to attempt to make a serious impact on improving public health without the collaboration of those in industry.

"Corporate engagement is an important first step. It has to happen and should have happened a long time ago," he said.

Steven Ward, Director of Public Affairs and Policy at the Fitness Industry Association, agreed that a wide approach needs to be taken to tackle public health.

He said that the government's 'responsibility deal' is just one aspect of the response to tackling the challenges ahead.

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