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Public health directors positive on transition from NHS

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A survey marking the fifth anniversary of the transition of public health teams from the NHS to councils has revealed significant positivity among practitioners over the move.

The survey of members conducted by the Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH) found 78.5% feel very positive or positive about the transition, with just under 2% of the 56 respondents saying they feel negative or very negative.

There were also largely positive responses to a series of questions on the impact of the move on public health teams and practice.

Of the respondents, 88% said they completely agree or somewhat agree that being situated in the local authority has enabled the public health team to more effectively influence the social determinants of health, while 77% said the transition had led to more effective working between the public health team and the local community.

A large majority of respondents (89%) said directors of public health can provide robust system leadership from within a council setting, while 74% said greater devolution of health and social care responsibility to the regions is a good opportunity for public health.

However, 82% said cuts to public health budgets have had an adverse impact on population health outcomes and 67% said being situated within councils has weakened the relationship between the public health team and the NHS.

Also, 60% said they completely agreed or somewhat agreed that being situated within councils has reduced the attractiveness of roles in the public health team, with 24.5% saying they disagree.

Writing for LGC today, ADPH honorary secretary Tim Allison said there are now “great opportunities” for directors of public health to “work across organisational and sectoral boundaries”.

He added: “Public health was a foundation of local government tackling risks to health in the 19th century and DPHs are now best placed in local government to take a leading role in tackling the modern risks and underlying determinants that contribute to health inequality, injustice and disability.”

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