GPs edged out of public health as White Paper details are unveiled

GPs will be edged out of their role in public health with the majority of public health services being commissioned by local authorities, the DoH has revealed.

Mr Lansley: ‘Too often in the past, public health budgets have been raided by the NHS to tackle deficits'
Mr Lansley: ‘Too often in the past, public health budgets have been raided by the NHS to tackle deficits'

The plans have been revealed in public health White Paper released today.

Under the plans, new staff will be appointed by local councils who should ensure that GP commissioning decisions always consider public health.

The government said its ‘radical’ public health White Paper will go further and faster in tackling the causes of premature death and illness and reduce health inequalities.

The White Paper, ‘Healthy Lives, Healthy People’ will outline that around £4bn funding from the overall NHS budget will be ring-fenced for spending on public health - part of this will be used by a new body Public Health England for population-wide issues, while another part will provide a ring-fenced budget to local authorities.

A new ‘health premium’ will be introduced to take account of health inequalities and reward progress on specific public health outcomes.

A consultation will be used to thrash out the detail of how this will work, but the government has pledged that disadvantaged areas will see a greater premium if they make progress in recognition that they face the greatest challenges.

It will outline that local authorities will make the bulk of public health commissioning decisions. A new ‘director of public health’ role will be created within councils who will oversee that public health is considered when GP consortia, local authorities and the NHS make decision.

Health secretary Andrew Lansley said: ‘Too often in the past, public health budgets have been raided by the NHS to tackle deficits. Not any more. The money will be ring-fenced to be used as it should be – for preventing ill health.

‘People’s health and wellbeing will be at the heart of everything local councils do. It’s nonsense to think that health can be tackled on its own. Directors of Public Health will be able to champion local cooperation so that health issues are considered alongside housing, transport, and education.’

He added: ‘Everyone should have services tailored for them, at the right times in their life from the professionals closest to them. With local authorities in the driving seat, supported by the latest evidence on behaviour change from Public Health England, we will start seeing significant improvements in the nation’s health.’

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