Localism must not blur health advice

By Susie Sell, 28 February 2011

National public health campaigns must not be lost in the drive to hand more responsibility to local authorities and GP consortia, GP leaders have warned.

Dr Fradd: flu vacination failed because there was no central campaign (Photograph: MC Green)

Dr Fradd: flu vacination failed because there was no central campaign (Photograph: MC Green)

Former GPC deputy chairman Dr Simon Fradd also told an All Party Parliamentary Group meeting on public health in London last week that patient groups should be represented on the boards of GP consortia.

Dr Fradd, now chairman of Concordia Health, argued that public health messages need to be reinforced nationally, locally and on a personal level.

He told MPs that the flu vaccination programme failed this year because there was no central campaign. 'We thought people would be running down to the surgery to get their jabs because of the scare last year.

'The truth is that's not how these long-term health promotion campaigns work. They take year after year after year. You can't take your foot off the accelerator.'

Dr Fradd said consistency of messages was 'absolutely fundamental'. He added: 'We need consistency of information, education, encouragement and support.'

Meanwhile, Dr Fradd said consortia will have a real opportunity to improve the public health of local populations.

Consortia have 'in-built incentives' to improve public health because it will mean fewer NHS resources are used in the long term, he said.

'Commissioning groups have really got a reason to engage on this, and then they will hold practices to account,' he said.

Dr Fradd also said it is essential that commissioning groups engage with local populations.

'They need to do it through focus groups, through community involvement as a whole, and have to have representation not just on health and wellbeing boards but on commissioning boards themselves.'

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