Public health shake-up plan

Joanne Roney after announcing budget proposals' 'LOCATION:  Wakefield Town Hall
Joanne Roney after announcing budget proposals' 'LOCATION: Wakefield Town Hall

A CONTROVERSIAL shake-up of the NHS will see responsibility for public health services transferred from the NHS to the council.

Councillors will discuss the handover of public health services like substance misuse, mental health and obesity at a cabinet meeting next week.

Under the government’s Health and Social Care bill, the services and their funding will transfer from the NHS to local authorities in 2013.

A report to next week’s meeting said around 90 staff would transfer from the district Primary Care Trust (PCT) to the council. Consultations with unions representing the staff had started.

Joanne Roney, the council’s chief executive, said: “The changes won’t affect how people use or get in touch with health and wellbeing services but gives us the opportunity to strengthen those services.”

Under the changes, PCTs, which currently provide the services, will be scrapped and groups of GPS called clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) will be handed control of budgets. Councils will take over responsibility for public health.

The legislation, which was being debated in the House of Lords this week, has met with opposition from health unions over fears it will allow private companies to run health services for a profit.

It is yet to become law, but the report said transitional arrangements for the handover of services to the council would be put in place in October.

Ms Roney added: “We are working with NHS managers to make sure we have a smooth transition and are ready to take the reins on public health next year.”

Services to be transferred include smoking, alcohol and drug misuse, children and young people’s services, obesity, mental health, dental health and sexual health.