Public health challenges and opportunities

By on 03/01/2013 in Blog, Cllr Bedser, News

Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, Cllr Steve Bedser, and Director of Public Health, Dr Adrian Phillips,look forward to April’s transition of public health responsibilities to local government and warn councils must be given the freedom to make a difference.

The challenges facing local government in 2013 are not too dissimilar to the drivers behind the first public health act in 1848. The aim then was to tackle extreme vulnerability as well as enabling improved general wellbeing. The specifics may have changed but the principles have not.

What has changed is the sheer scale of the challenge. You could say that a perfect storm is heading for local government: a combination of growing demand, due to our ageing population and poor economic situation, coupled with a dramatic reduction in resources.

You could also say that this presents us with enough of a challenge without taking on major new public health responsibilities. But rather than this being a reason to oppose change, these challenges provide an added spur for wholesale reform.

Put bluntly, our current health and social care system is unsustainable and will buckle under the weight of demand unless we re-engineer our planning and service provision to promote healthy choices, protect health, prevent sickness and intervene early to minimise the need for costly hospital treatment.

We need to reform all council systems, services and plans so that they actively promote health rather than simply treat a rising tide of illness and long-term conditions.

Read the Guardian article in full here

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