Preventing cancer, cutting tooth decay in children and the population weighing less, are some of the challenges local councils will be able to track when they take over looking after the health and wellbeing of their residents.
That’s according to health secretary, Andrew Lansley.
‘Those who make the most improvements will be rewarded with a cash incentive’
For the first time, public health will be measured against a framework which sets out 66 health measures so councils and the government are able to see real improvements being made and take any action needed.
From April next year, councils will be given a ring-fenced budget – a share of around £5.2 billion based on 2012/13 funding – and will be able to choose how they spend it according to the needs of their population. Those who make the most improvements will be rewarded with a cash incentive.
The results this progress will be measured against include:
• Fewer children under five will have tooth decay
• People will weigh less
• More women will breastfeed their babies
• Fewer over 65s will suffer falls
• Fewer people will smoke
• Fewer people will die from heart disease and stroke.
But public health is more than just moving more and eating well. It’s also about tackling the causes of ill-health.
That is why the new measures also look at school attendance, domestic abuse, homelessness and air pollution.
Speaking at the Royal Society for Public Health, Andrew Lansley said: ‘We are giving local councils the money, the power, the right expertise and information to build healthier communities. Every area of the country is different so councils will be able to decide what the most important public health concern is for them and spend the money appropriately.
‘It is absolutely right that the budget and decision making sits with councils. They will be able to address all aspects that affect our wellbeing – such as school attendance, homelessness and fuel poverty – in the round.
‘Using the framework we have published today, local professionals will be able to make real changes to improve health.’
The health secretary also highlighted how public health has already started to change, thanks to the Responsibility Deal.
Now, people on the high street can be reassured that artificial trans fats are not lurking in their food from many outlets such as Greggs, Costa or McDonald’s.
In supermarkets, people will know a lot of the food going into their basket will have less salt in. And customers will know that when they eat out at popular high street restaurants this year over a third of meals and takeaways will have their calories labelled, helping people to opt for the healthier options.
Andrew Lansley added: ‘The Responsibility Deal has led to real changes for everyone and we can now see these in our everyday life – on our high street, in our supermarkets and at work, too.
‘People might not realise that these changes are down to the Responsibility Deal but we can now see that it is helping people to live healthier lives.’