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COMMUNITIES FOR HEALTH DOUBLED AFTER 'TREMENDOUS RESPONSE' FROM LOCAL AUTHORITIES

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The government has doubled the number of pilots taking part in its new communities for health public health initiat...
The government has doubled the number of pilots taking part in its new communities for health public health initiative, public health minister Caroline Flint has announced.

In her first speech since taking up post a month ago, Ms Flint told the annual scientific meeting of the Faculty of Public Health that the number of pilots had been doubled to 25 because of the 'tremendous response' from local communities.

Ms Flint said the programme, which aims to follow locally chosen agendas, would be rolled out nationally in 2006-07. She told delegates in Scarborough: 'This is a new approach to unlocking the energy in communities. The programme will promote action in local priorities for health, putting people in charge of their own health agenda.'

She said there had been a 'tremendous response' from local authorities and primary care trusts, some of whom have already launched pilot programmes. 'The pilot areas will help us to better our understanding of the most effective ways to encourage people to improve their own health,' she added.

She said plans were also underway to develop the role of health trainers who will work in areas of major inequalities to 'motivate and support individuals who want to change their attitudes and behaviours' towards a healthy lifestyle.

'We want them to work in a different setting, within communities,' she said.

Ms Flint said the Department of Health had already received around 150 'expressions of interest in helping us to develop models of how they could work.'

But she acknowledged that there are already many successful local initiatives whose results should be shared across communities. 'Sometimes we spend a lot of time on pilots, looking for evidence when we know the answers,' said Ms Flint. 'Rather than waiting a couple of years, we must start thinking about evidence-based solutions in real time.'

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