An effective custodian of the public’s health

A collection of essays on six years of public health in local government

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Good public health, by drawing imaginatively on all of local government’s functions, can make a real, large-scale difference on all levels. From promoting the independence of people with long-term chronic conditions, to actually preventing ill health, good public health services can help to reduce pressures on social care and the NHS, and tackle health inequalities all whilst maintaining its primary goal of improving people’s lives and wellbeing.

Innovative practice from individual councils shows just what potential there is for public health, if properly resourced, to make inroads into improving health and wellbeing, and to do it efficiently. We have, on a number of areas, delivered better outcomes at less cost than the NHS did when they controlled public health.

The rationale for a local government lead is unchanged: that the greatest impacts on health are in the circumstances in which we live, employment, education, environment and the effects of the social gradient of health, that is, equality or the lack of it. Local government, while often limited itself in its influence, can certainly impact more on these factors than the NHS.