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New health survey highlights the impact of the recession

There is concern about the impact of the recession on councils’ abilities to improve health in their local communities. More than four in five say that the recession has forced local authorities to economise. 

The greatest challenge in the future is thought to be reduced resources, and the majority expect the priority their council gives to health inequalities to increase in the next five years. These are the findings of a new survey of chief executives and senior officers of local authorities and Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) launched today Wednesday 2 December.

Obesity, smoking and the gap between the wealthiest and poorest still remain the main health issues for both local councils and PCTs, which was also found in last years report.

Councils in the north are more likely to say that alcohol and low life expectancy are key challenges, compared to Councils in London and the south. Nine out of ten local authorities now employ someone with the responsibility for tackling health inequalities.

The 2009 survey also sought the opinion of a random selection of ten elected members with key responsibility for health from local authorities across the country. Each selected Councillor participated in a depth interview.

Councillor David Rogers, Local Government Association (LGA) Chairman of the Community Wellbeing Board, said:

"Councillors are highlighting a number of different health inequalities, reflecting the range and demographic profile of their area, which this report confirms. It identifies councillors as championing the problem of obesity which is a particular national concern".

The report was commissioned by the Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA), Healthy Communities programme, from Ipos MORI and issued today Wednesday 2 December.

Headline findings from the survey

  • 51 per cent believe that the economic situation has had a negative impact on the local authority’s ability to tackle the health of their community.
  • 84 per cent agree that a commitment to tackling health inequalities and improving the health of local communities is embedded within their authority.
  • 74 per cent of those from local authorities say that local councillor commitment is good, compared to 49 per cent of those from PCTs.
  • 24 per cent of district councils think that health and tackling health inequalities is more a PCT issue.
  • 84 per cent of local authorities feel they have a good relationship with their PCT.
  • 91 per cent of PCTs feel they have a good relationship with their local authority.  

Healthy Communities Direction of Travel Survey report

Note:

Ipsos MORI interviewed 382 Chief Executives and other senior staff from Local Authorities and 113 from PCTs via telephone between 8 June and 31 July 2009.

Further information

Contact:

Paul Bailey
telephone: 020 7296 6529
email: paul.bailey@idea.gov.uk

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