11 January 2013

Report calls for bottom up approach to public health

Report calls for bottom up approach to public health

This new report from the Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) suggests a bottom up approach is required from local authorities to address public health issues such as obesity and diabetes. A Dose of Localism: The Role of Councils in Public Health, published with Westminster City Council, recommends that this is characterised by early intervention and co-production. And also suggests there may be benefits to public health of incentivising people to exercise.

The report makes five recommendations to local government on how to face the increase in demand for public health at a financially challenging time.

  1. Innovate. Councils should design innovative services that embed the public health approach across service areas.
  2. Show who benefits from invest to save. Public health analysis needs to build on the community budget pilots to provide more robust cost benefit analysis of actions that deliver longer term savings from early intervention and preventative action and where future benefits accrue.
  3. Recruit and develop community commissioners. The key to realising health gains is giving communities real decision-making power. One option is to employ community commissioners.
  4. Identify and build on success. Local authorities should focus on strengthening pre-existing networks in communities that could play a role in delivering services.
  5. Councillors as community leaders. Ward councillors are the direct link between the local authority and the community. They are best-placed to encourage people to get involved in improving public health outcomes.

The authors of this report hope it will help stimulate debate about what effective local government leadership of public health looks like.

Download: A Dose of Localism: The Role of Councils in Public Health