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Call for scrutiny of new public health role

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Councils should be held to account by the national body Public Health England if they fail to improve public health, according to thinktank the King’s Fund.

A report, published on Wednesday, said making councils responsible for public health was a good idea, but warned there was “no accountability or penalty if public health outcomes start to slide”.

It said Public Health England, a national body set up to oversee public health services, should “develop a clear approach to averting and, as a last resort, dealing with poor performance in terms of public health outcomes”.

The report assessing the coalition’s health policies said the government did not appear convinced of the need for closer scrutiny.

However, it said, “the biggest risk of more localism is that public health outcomes in some areas could deteriorate as services become increasingly diverse across the country”.

The report also warned that further cuts in councils’ social care budgets could lead some care providers to fail and others to reduce standards and cut staff.

“There is likely to be a deterioration in the care of older people and people with disabilities”, it said.

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