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EHPs excluded from public health

Corin Williams30/01/2013 - 14:00

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26% of HWBs have not considered EHPs
26% of HWBs have not considered EHPs

A CIEH poll of managers responsible for public and environmental health in England found nearly a quarter have had no contact with their local Health and Wellbeing Board (HWB).

HWBs, set up to co-ordinate public health services, currently exist in shadow form in upper-tier and unitary councils across the country and will officially go live on 1 April.

Just 37 per cent of respondents said the work of EHPs had been discussed by the HWB, and only half said environmental health had been identified in their authorities’ health and wellbeing strategy.

In areas with an appointed director of public health, 28 per cent of managers said neither they or their authority had any involvement with the post holder. Fifty-seven per cent said there had been some involvement.

But the survey, which was carried out in September, also revealed a significant number of EHPs were optimistic that environmental health would be boosted under the new regime.

Following a separate survey the Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH) has warned of a ‘significant loss’ of public health leadership.

An ADPH survey of public health directors found nearly one in five were not planning to transfer to the local authority, with some respondents criticising the council for viewing public health ‘in terms of cost-saving’.

Between 30 and 40 posts are expected to be vacant by 1 April. The figures also revealed a loss of specialist public health staff and programme funding.

Some directors also they expected difficulties liaising with staff in district councils.

But the survey also revealed increased confidence among respondents that the transition of public health to local authorities will deliver ‘better outcomes’.

CIEH survey results

‘My local authority’s environmental health service is engaged directly or indirectly with a HWB?’

Yes 68%, no 23%, don’t know 9%

‘Has the work of EHPs been discussed within the HWB?’

Yes 37%, no 26%, don’t know 37%

‘From what you know of the Health and Wellbeing Strategy, is environmental health work identified in the document?’

Yes 49%, no 22%, don’t know 29%

‘If yes, does this extend beyond the statutory/regulatory role?’

Yes 48%, no 38%, don’t know 14%

‘If the new appointment to the post of director of public health has been made, have you or your local authority had any form of involvement with the post holder?’

Yes 57%, no 28%, don’t know 17%

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