NHS Providers report on public health: CCN response

CCN Latest News, CCN News 2021 | 24 February 2021

Today NHS Providers has released a publication on the future of public health services, suggesting that they should be commissioned by the health service rather than councils.

The publication, which can be read here, says that NHS Providers believes that ‘clinical public health services would be better commissioned alongside other NHS services.’

Since 2013, responsibility for public health has resided with upper-tier local authorities. A report by Shared Intelligence for the County Councils Network concluded that transfer had been a success, despite yearly funding reductions. It argues local government’s role in public health should be enhanced, rather than diminished.

During the pandemic, councils’ public health teams have played a vital role in suppressing the virus in local areas. Localised test and trace teams have consistently outperformed the centralised national scheme.

Cllr David Fothergill, health and social care spokesperson for the County Councils Network, said:

“The transfer of public health services to local authorities has been one of the good news stories for councils over the last eight years. Whilst government funding has declined, outcomes have improved: with people living more healthier lives, less individuals smoking, and less sexually transmitted diseases. They have benefitted from the commissioning and value-for-money expertise of councils, and the integration of public health across other services such as housing, planning, and social care.

“Public health being locally-run has had several benefits during the pandemic, with local test and trace efforts set up by councils proving far more effective than the centralised national system.

“Therefore, this latest suggestion from NHS Providers that some commissioning should be removed from local authorities is illogical: councils have more than proved their worth in delivering public health since 2013. Councils should have an enhanced role with services adequately resourced to meet their area’s needs and they should have a prime role in any redesign of the public health system.”