Councils handed 2bn public health fund and will be held to account over smoking, drinking and obesity, says Lansley
Pledges to increase health spending in real terms. Councils will receive bonus 'health premium' payments for successes
Local governments to devise their own schemes to tackle problems
Announcement: Health Secretary Andrew Lansley unveiled plans to give local councils responsibility for public health in a bid to tackle obesity, binge drinking and smoking
Councils will be allocated more than 2billion to look after public health under plans announced by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley today.
Councils are being handed responsibility for public health for the first time since the 1970s, to stem obesity, binge drinking and smoking.
They will be asked to focus on measures relating to the health needs of their local population from an array of 66 outcome 'indicators'.
Central government will not dictate which indicators councils must focus on, or how they achieve them, but data will be published with the aim of holding local authorities to account.
The 66 indicators include reducing child poverty and pupil absence, increasing levels of employment among people with long-term health conditions and cutting the number of road casualties.
There are also specific measures on tackling adult and childhood obesity, the number of low birthweight babies, breastfeeding rates and the proportion of teenagers under 18 falling pregnant.
Exercise rates among adults, how many people smoke, drug treatment and admissions to hospital resulting from alcohol are also included.
These run alongside cancer screening rates, tooth decay among under-fives and preventable sight loss.
Some councils will receive bonus 'health premium' payments if they are successful, with Mr Lansley saying there was a need to move away from a situation where the worse things are, the more money is given.
'We have to have a philosophy that says we will pay for results,”'he said.
Mr Lansley set out the new Public Health Outcomes Framework in a speech today at the Faculty of Public Health.
He has come under fire for his stance on public health and for including junk food companies in programmes aimed at tackling inactivity, poor diet and obesity.
Healthy choices: The scheme will see local councils promote their own schemes to tackle ways to tackle problems such as obesity, which now sees a quarter of British adults being dangerously overweight
In November, the Government disbanded its expert advisory group on obesity following disagreements over the direction of policy.
Professor Klim McPherson of Oxford
University, a member of the group, said ministers “ignored” its
suggestions and instead focused on a greater role for food and drink
Chef Jamie Oliver also attacked Mr
Lansley’s obesity strategy, saying it was “worthless, regurgitated,
patronising rubbish” and dismissed it as 'a farce'.
Mr Lansley said today that next year
5.2 billion will be spent on public health, with the Government
increasing the budget in real terms each year after that.
Public health money is also being ring-fenced so it cannot be diverted to plug gaps in local authority finances.
He added: 'We are giving local
councils the money, the power, the right expertise and information to
build healthier communities.
'Every area of the country is
different so councils will be able to decide what the most important
public health concern is for them and spend the money appropriately.
'It is absolutely right that the budget and decision making sits with councils.
'They will be able to address all
aspects that affect our wellbeing – such as school attendance,
homelessness and fuel poverty – in the round.'
Shadow public health minister Diane
Abbott said Labour welcomed handing local authorities new responsibility
for public health but “in practice, these powers are being given at a
time of unprecedented financial pressures on local councils.
'The Government has not demonstrated
how it can effectively ring-fence the money and stop cash-strapped
councils from diverting the funds to related issues like social care.'
Ms Abbott added: 'Lansley’s claims for his re-organisation of public health are hollow.
'The truth is that the cuts in public
spending overall, and the chaos and confusion caused by the NHS reforms,
mean that today’s announcement just masks a growing crisis in
healthcare. These proposals are dead on arrival.'
Royal College of Nursing (RCN) chief executive Dr Peter Carter welcomed the document.
'However, we are acutely aware that
changes have already been happening on the ground, well before this
document came to light, and are concerned that some of the wider
reaching implications have not been fully considered.
'There is certainly a great deal of
work to be done in tackling major public health issues such as obesity,
alcohol and sexual health and nurses have a key role to play in this.
'In order to achieve these goals the
Government needs to take its dedicated NHS staff with them, yet it
appears to have completely disregarded the impact these changes will
have on the workforce with many set to be transferred to local
authorities without fair consultation.'