Select Committee on Health Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum by Avon NHS Health Authority (PH 5)

  1.  This memorandum summarises key issues identified by the inter-agency Working Group on the Future of Public Health in the Avon area. The Working Group was established by Avon Health Authority in January 2000, took evidence from 33 local witnesses and produced an Interim Report in March 2000 (annexed).

  2.  There was widespread consensus among witnesses and within the Working Group on the principles which define public health work:

    —  goals which involve population health improvement;

    —  strategies which cover the broad range of what determines health in a population; and

    —  active interventions involving communities themselves and many disciplines in several organisations.

  3.  We agreed a statement of vision:

  Our vision is the establishment of a strong and mutually supportive network involving communities and public health specialists and practitioners working in a collaborative partnership to improve the health of the population.

  4.  There was strong commitment from stakeholders for the public health function and a valuing of public health skills. The critical issue identified in our deliberations was how these valued but scarce skills could be developed within and extended across new NHS primary care organisations.

  5.  The Working Group made a number of recommendations relevant to the Health Committee's Inquiry, including:

    —  the Public Health Directorate be maintained as a central public health resource based at the Health Authority of the entire Avon health community;

    —  all public health specialists from the Public Health Directorate be outposted to PCTs for an average of 0.2 wte each;

    —  planning should commence for the new role of PCT public health lead, to be developed and funded from new resources; and

    —  the PCT public health lead should co-ordinate a public health team drawing on health and Local Authority practitioners, outposted public health specialists and health promotion specialists and the PCT information analyst(s).

  6.  Our deliberations were based on the assumption that the Government's new public health agenda could only be delivered with a significant investment in the development of public health capacity (particularly within Primary Care Trusts) including longer term support for public health education and training and significant increased recruitment to the field.

  7.  The health community across Avon would welcome guidance from the Health Committee on ways in which public health skills and capacity can be enhanced to improve the health of our communities.

July 2000

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