The Coalition Government has set out it's plans for the future of Public Health in it's new white paper, Healthy lives, healthy people: Our strategy for public health in England. Presented to Parliament by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, the document details the intended reorganisation and proposes the creation of a new public body within the Department of Health, with specific responsibility for Public Health.
'Public Health England' will coordinate and work alongside PCT's and SHA's, as well as newly formed GP Consortia, to deliver and commission Public Health services. A newly formed NHS Commissioning Board (NHSCB) will also have an involvement, but overall responsibility for Public Health will rest with the new body from the proposed date of April 2012.
Continuing the Governments agenda of decentralising power and in line with it's previous publications on the future of healthcare in the country, the new system will focus on a local level. In an interesting move, the paper suggests that Local Government take the lead in this. A Director of Public Health (DPH) will be appointed by each local authority in consultation with Public Health England, be employed by the former and be accountable to both.
A DPH will be the strategic leader for Public Health in their area, being the principal advisor to the local authority on all health matters and how the authority's functions may effect the health of the local population. They will identify and tackle health inequalities and be an advocate for health in the community. The DsPH will also work closely with the local NHS and GP's towards that same end.
The proposals reflect the importance of preventative measures and the need for an integrated and holistic approach in improving the health of the Nation.
The paper states that more details of the changes are to come in a series of publications, before they're put to the vote when the Health and Social Care Bill goes before Parliament in the new year.