So This Is Christmas...

and what have you done? A pertinent question from John & yoko and one that made me think what have I done? Well kept these Blog posts going for one although they haven't been as frequent as I would have liked (or maybe for some that was a relief!). Professionally its been a bit of a whirlwind and probably the steepest learning curve I've ever had to climb. Colleagues are probably sick (and I'm not talking Norovirus here!) of me singing "Its coming home Its coming home Public Health's coming home!" to praraphrase Baddiel & Skinner.

The question is though are Local Authorities particularly second tier ones ready for it? in my experience the picture is a mixed one with the usual helping of inconsistency thrown in. I have found myself sitting in meetings with various Health leads some are Policy Officers who understandably have little knowledge of front line Public Health while I know little of their world. I'm old enough to remember the day my boss came into the office and announced "we're a business unit now so if you want anything from legal don't forget they will charge us."  that to me was the day that Local Authorities ceased to be consistent and the much maligned silo mentality was born. Whether you agree or disagree with that there can be no doubt that if we are to embrace Public Health and start making a difference to our communities we need to all be singing off the same hymn sheet.

As Mr Pickles begins to sharpen the Christmas knife to inflict more cuts on Local Government we need to move away from the belief that the NHS deals with health not us. To paraphrase the Chair of our Health & Wellbeing Board "90% of health has nothing to do with the NHS." I'm a great fan and think they do a great job in exceptionally difficult circumstances but all they can do is patch people up and send them back out into the community. The NHS has little time to devote into finding out why people arrive at their door in the first place that's our job now that Public Health has returned (not that we weren't doing it before.)

Local Authorities were originally established to raise taxes, provide local democracy and improve the health of their populations. Up until now the last bit has been dropping further and further off the radar. if you cut out that level (see 50 ways to save: Examples of sensible savings in local government (DCLG 2012), you condemn the NHS to a slow agonising death overwhelmed by the demands of a population that will already see the current crop of children live shorter lives than their parents. So if I have one wish for 2013 its that the powers that be will realise that political dogma, self interest and lack of knowledge will not solve the problem but if they start involving front line staff with a passion for improving the health of our communities we might just have a shot.

Thanks for sticking with my ramblings through 2012.
Have a Great Christmas and a Healthy New year.


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