Local government is at the forefront of improving health and wellbeing. Since responsibility for public health transferred in 2013, councils have responded with innovation and collaboration and this report sets many of the exciting new approaches that have been developed.
The health and care landscape is transforming. Local Sustainability and Transformation Plans recognise that we will only succeed as a system, if we get prevention right.
The challenges of an ageing population, widening health inequalities and a backdrop of falling budgets mean that effective prevention has never been more essential. Investing in effective prevention at the same time as responding to rising demand requires skilful leadership.
It also requires a change in the way that we work with the public. Exciting developments in technology offer new ways to engage with people and support them to lead healthier lives. Partnership working with health colleagues is opening up new developments such as social prescribing, drawing in our rich voluntary sector and community resources, to enable GPs to offer a range of solutions to challenges such as social isolation. We are working together to encourage and motivate behaviours that reduce or manage clinical conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
In Kent, for example, we have embraced the national ONE YOU campaign with the creation of ONE YOU Kent. This brings together local authority communication channels, and Kent County Council, district council and NHS resources, to offer an integrated lifestyle approach that moves away from a traditional clinical service-based response.
Collaboration is crucial. In two-tier areas, county councils hold public health responsibilities, but district councils are key partners, given their levers for planning, environmental health and housing, and of course, their relationships with local communities.
In these challenging times, council leadership will utilise every opportunity at its disposal to improve health and wellbeing. The public health workforce brings an important skillset particularly on data analytics, to enable us to invest in solutions or services that will have the greatest impact.
In Kent, we are putting public health at the heart of our new commissioning arrangements. This will ensure that our decisions are based on the rich data in needs assessments and our developing integrated data sets. This report reminds us of the value of using the evidence-based approach that is central to public health, and the opportunity that this brings when working in partnership. We will have the greatest impact bringing this together with our children’s and adult services, alongside our infrastructure to influence economic growth and the environment.
We are still at the early stages of the transition to local government but the case studies in this report show that we are already seeing significant positive impact from the change. In Kent, we are proud that despite budget reductions in the Public Health Grant, we have seen a 24 per cent increase in the number of developmental reviews delivered for all families by health visitors, with children under 5. It is these kind of improvements that as
councils we can deliver for families.
Clearly, this report welcomes the progress to date. But it also sets out that we must be ambitious to do more, urgently. We must extend our influence to shape the wider determinants, creating healthy places and healthy communities for all. Local government has the potential to seize this opportunity and I encourage you to read this report to drive the efforts in your local communities to do this.