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Digest: Call for public health focus to boost productivity

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Councils’ public health and economic development teams should work closer together to help boost workforce productivity, according to new research.

A survey of 99 directors of public health conducted by the New Local Government Network found that while relationships had been forged with children’s and adult social care services, just 13% said they felt economic development departments were engaged.

The report, published today, also said public health teams were less likely to engage with employers, as only 5% of health and wellbeing boards currently have representation from the business sector.

The NLGN said the industrial strategy published yesterday “largely” ignores the role of public health in boosting the workforce by promoting healthier lifestyles.

It called for an annual investment for preventative measures of £100,000 in each of the 130 health and wellbeing board areas over five years to help boost productivity.

The report also said there should be greater collaboration on public health between county and district councils in two-tier areas, with a focus on housing and planning, while relationships should be strengthened with agencies in the criminal justice system.

Lead report author Lucy Terry said: “Our research found plenty of evidence that public health teams had made substantial inroads in addressing the wider determinants of health through their strong relationships with areas like social care – and this is a positive step forward.

“But several years on from the transfer, there needs to be stronger relationships between public health and economic development for productive growth.”

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