homeWednesday 8th July 2020

HWBs ‘must involve districts’

Corin Williams01/08/2012 - 12:00

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Anne Milton backs EHPs
Anne Milton backs EHPs

Public health minister Anne Milton has given her backing to the ‘vital public health role’ EHOs play as the Department of Health (DoH) said second-tier councils should be involved in developing strategic public health plans.

The DoH said health and wellbeing boards (HWBs) should involve district councils when drawing up Joint Strategic Needs Assessments (JSNAs), in new draft guidance issued this week.

A consultation on the guidance, which will run until 28 September, sets out the government’s thinking on how councils and local health bodies should develop key strategies to improve public health in their areas.

The draft said that ‘health and wellbeing boards for county councils must involve the relevant district councils in developing JSNAs’.

It also said top-tier authorities should work with districts in preparing strategies to deliver needs assessments.

Health and wellbeing boards were also told they should consider ‘vulnerable groups who experience inequalities’ and environmental factors that impact on health, such as access to green space, air quality, housing, community safety and employment.

The guidance added that HWBs could take on housing strategies to tackle local health problems.

Meanwhile, in response to a request from the CIEH to lend EHPs support in promoting environmental health within the new public health system, Ms Milton said: ‘The transfer of local leadership on public health to local authorities offers a huge opportunity to enhance their role.

‘I look forward to seeing environmental health services develop as we see local authorities take on their new roles.’

Many environmental health directors have been disquieted over the lack of guaranteed involvement with the new public health system, as there is no statutory duty to co-operate.

CIEH head of policy David Kidney said: ‘It is encouraging to see such a clear emphasis on the involvement of district councils in the department’s consultation. We would urge county and district councils to work together at all stages.

‘We agree with the minister that environmental health departments are well placed to help develop the new public health service and we urge all councils to involve them in their planning.’

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