Public health transition must be properly funded

By on 20/11/2012 in Cllr Bedser, News
Cllr Steve Bedser

Cllr Steve Bedser

The man charged with steering major changes to public health in Birmingham over the next six months has warned councils must be given the funding to effectively deliver a wide-range of life saving services.

Birmingham City Council takes over responsibility for public health across the city in April 2013 and must tackle a wide range of issues including: smoking, alcohol, obesity, substance abuse and sexual health.

The Department of Health has assured councils they will not be out of pocket when they take over responsibility for public health in April.

But research by the British Medical Association has revealed the department's use of old data means some authorities will receive less money for their public health duties than primary care trusts had been spending on the services.

Now Birmingham City Council Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, Cllr Steve Bedser, insists the transition must be adequately funded.

Cllr Bedser, who is also a member of the Community Wellbeing Board of the Local Government Association, said: “Local government is ready to take on public health but we must be given the freedom, power and resources to do so.

“We’re working closely with the Department of Health to ensure councils know what resources they have to meet the very long list of statutory public health functions they will be required to deliver.

“We're talking about a wide-range of life enhancing and, in many cases, life saving services here and the funding has to be there so that local authorities can deliver.”

In a speech to the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, Cllr Bedser warned public health services must increasingly prioritise preventative measures.

He added: “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 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 system 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 of our systems, services and plans so that they actively promote health rather than simply treatment a rising tide of illness and long term conditions.”


For more information contact Geoff Coleman on 0121 303 3501

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