Public health may lose out, says report

Primary care trusts will need to work closely
with local authorities to manage public health issues, the King’s
Fund has warned.

Research by the think-tank was published this
week to coincide with the change to the delivery of health services
set out in the Department of Healthpolicy document Shifting the
Balance of Power

The study identifies a “perceived danger” that
individuals’ specialities may be lost as large teams in health
authorities are broken down into smaller PCTs and practitioners
take on more generic functions.

“Public health is only one of many competing
responsibilities for London’s 30 PCTs – and, to date, they and
their partners have had little opportunity to work out in detail
how they will organise public health locally under new structures,”
says the report.

It warns that health visitor vacancies in
London could “hamper some PCTs’ efforts to deliver public health”,
with some areas facing vacancy rates of 9 per cent, compared with a
London average of 2.3 per cent and national average of 1.9 per

“This could have significant implications for
working with vulnerable population groups to reduce local health
inequalities,” it says.

The new system will see power and most of the
NHS budget shifted to front-line staff in PCTs. The number of
health authorities will be cut from 98 to 28 from next week.

Public Health in the Balance: Getting it
Right for London
from and
Shifting the Balance of Power is available from

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