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Effective public health plan needed to reform NHS

The NHS Confederation last week (14 July) welcomed the Government's changes to its public health proposals, but remains concerned about issues such as health premiums and the commissioning of sexual health and children's services.

The Government's updated vision for a future Public Health Service was set out on 14 July with the publication of Healthy Lives, Healthy People: Update and Way Forward, which builds on proposals set out in the November 2010 white paper.

Read our briefing, which summarises the main points, and sets out our reaction in full.

NHS Confederation commentary

NHS Confederation deputy director of policy Jo Webber, said on 14 July: "We need an effective and efficient public health system to keep the NHS on a sustainable footing in the future. This is an issue we need to get right not just for now, but for the generations of the future.

Giving local authorities local responsibility

"We support the Government's aim to give local authorities responsibility for public health as it offers a genuine opportunity to coordinate policies across a wide range of public services such as hospitals, schools and housing.

"We are encouraged to see the Government has taken on board our calls to establish Public Health England as an executive agency with greater independence.

"We also welcome the move to provide clinical commissioning groups with public health expertise so they can commission services using the best evidence.

Clarity needed on health premiums

"However, there are a number of issues that we remain concerned about.
"The Government's proposals for health premiums remain unclear. As they currently stand, they could leave deprived areas with a greater disadvantage. The current drive to reduce long-term health problems in disadvantaged areas will not necessarily provide the results we need unless incentives are aligned to improve health and wellbeing sustainably.

Concerns over fragmented proposals

"We also remain concerned about the fragmented proposals for commissioning children's services and sexual health services - there is a strong likelihood this could lead to variation in the quality of services.

"We will continue our dialogue with Government to ensure the concerns of the NHS are taken on board.

"It is essential these proposals establish the best foundations for an effective public health system incorporating a wide range of public services."

Read more

Read our briefing, which summarises the main points, and sets out our reaction in full.

Download the complete policy statement at the Department of Health website.

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