How will child public health be prioritised? by Alison Wall
Public health commissioning responsibilities for 0-5 year olds transferred from NHS England to local authorities in October 2015.
Child health organisation has now moved full circle, as before the 1974 reorganisation health visiting and child health were managed by local councils. It makes sense to transfer these services across and they follow on from the transfer of school nursing in April 2013.
Commissioners need to get out into the workplace and see how the service supports young families and how needs are prioritised. They also need to appreciate the strain that services are under; in particular the impact of population growth and the growing complexity and diversity of cultures. Commissioners then should be able to argue the case when services are threatened and campaign for resources after 0-5 child health budget ring fencing ceases in April 2017.
So what can providers do? They need to understand how the council operates and get to know their Councillors. There will be a lead Councillor for public health and for young people. Committees are run with Councillors working with officers to make decisions regarding future design and extent of services. Health visitors can make networking a priority and possibly shadow their council colleagues to see what areas of work they cover and appreciate too the stresses they experience. All councils are tasked to look at cost cutting and working more efficiently.
It isn’t just the Council that features here though – health providers need to influence the content of the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) and stress priorities for the Health and Wellbeing Boards (HWB) to consider.1
The JSNA is a local document based on health indicators for the local population. It is produced by the
HWB. It involves a continuous process of assessing and planning across Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), local authorities and local partners. CCGs have a joint responsibility with the local authority to complete this, in order for the HWB to have an effective tool which guides decision making.
An aim should be for all departments within the Council to have a public health focus – who better than the newly transferred child health staff to take the initiative with this?