What has changed?
Public Health functions for our area previously located within the NHS moved to Cheshire West and Chester Council local authority responsibility on 1 April 2013.
What is Public Health?
Public health is concerned with the health of the entire population, rather than the health of individuals. This requires a collective effort; addressing prevention, treatment and care from a population perspective. It is about making sure that services are safe, effective, appropriate and accessible to the whole population.
What does Public Health cover?
Local authorities have been given new statutory duties across the three 'domains' of public health.
NHS public health teams will be bringing with them a set of specialist skills that include analysis and interpretation of population data and the local factors that impact on health. Combined with the rich data collected by local authorities about their residents, this has the potential to generate a deep understanding of the local population, their health needs and which interventions are likely to work most effectively to improve health. This information will be useful not only to local authorities, but also to health service commissioners within the NHS.
Public Health Commissioning
Public health are responsible for commissioning a range of services for the Cheshire West and Chester population. In August the Executive will be asked to approve a plan that will outline the forthcoming re-commissioning programme for some of the highest value services for:-
As well as having a general duty in relation to improving the health of their residents, local authorities will take on specific responsibilities for commissioning a long list of services and certain responsibilities will be mandatory:
Other responsibilities include:
These programmes will not be nationally prescribed, enabling local flexibility on how they are commissioned and/or delivered based on local need.
Role of the Director of Public Health
The Act makes clear that each local authority must, acting jointly with the Secretary of State for Health, appoint an individual to have responsibility for its new public health functions, known as the Director of Public Health.
The Director of Public Health will act as the lead officer in a local authority for health and championing health across the whole of the authority's business.
The Director of Public Health as a public health specialist will be responsible for all the new public health functions of local authorities.
There will be a statutory requirement for the Director of Public Health to produce an annual report on the health of the local population and for the local authority to publish it.
Public Health in Cheshire West and Chester
We know that many people in Cheshire West and Chester enjoy long, healthy and active lives.
But we also know that some residents do not enjoy good health and longevity and there are significant communities and vulnerable groups who experience very high levels of ill health from birth to death.
With this in mind, the Public Health Team at Cheshire West and Chester will use their expertise to implement key actions and priorities for the next 12 months to enable them to work to improve health and wellbeing for local communities.
(This article has been written from a briefing note on Public Health changes issued by Cheshire West and Chester Council- Ed)