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Districts make public health case

EHN reporter13/02/2013 - 14:00

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District councils have no statutory public health role
District councils have no statutory public health role

District councils can be key players in the new public health system even though they have not been given a formal public health role, according to a report backed by the CIEH.

The report by the Local Government Association’s District Councils’ Network (DCN), ahead of the changeover in April, details the vital contribution made by environmental health and other district council services.

CIEH chief executive Graham Jukes said: ‘the report adds to the wealth of knowledge and case studies on the application of district council functions and provides a spur to district councils to get involved for the sake of their communities in the new arrangements.’


Speaking at the launch of the report this week, Mr Jukes said EHPs were central in tackling the causes of the causes of ill health.

‘Environmental health is a key and perhaps the only existing public health service in local government serving community health and its role today in our district councils is essential in protecting and improving health, as this important document makes clear,’ he said.

A CIEH poll of public and environmental health managers carried out last year revealed environmental health services were not fully engaged in the changes proposed.

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

Mr Jukes provided a checklist of questions for district councils and their officers to address ‘to help them become fully engaged with the new health and well being boards and their clinical commissioning groups’.

In the DCN report a section on environmental health, produced in collaboration with the CIEH, calls for Health and Wellbeing Boards (HWBs) to have ‘effective and consistent engagement with all environmental health and emergency planning functions’.

A DCN spokesperson said: ‘It will help our members take a more corporate and strategic approach to public health, with district officers – from Chief Executive to frontline Environmental Health Practitioner - needing to own this agenda equally (if not more) their county colleagues.

‘We hope that health partners will now have a clearer understanding of our role in public health and will draw more widely on our services and expertise in the commissioning and delivery of the new public health system.’

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