District councils should be seen as key partners by the NHS and other tiers of local government, recognising their existing critical work in the integration of public health and care systems in England’s shire areas, a renowned health think-tank has advised.
The call is contained in an editorially-independent report from The King’s Fund entitled: ‘The district council contribution to public health: a time of challenge and opportunity’.
Commissioned by the District Councils’ Network (DCN) earlier this year, the study issued 19 November 2015 by the network investigates how district councils currently support community health and wellbeing and makes recommendations for how this role could be widened to deliver greater local health outcomes – while also providing cost savings and efficiencies.
Major district council contributions to health outcomes identified in the report include:
But in order to become integrated into mainstream health policy, The King’s Fund authors advised districts to focus on three key factors:
Among ten recommendations for maximising district impact on local health improvement, the report urges the DCN to make sure its members are at the core of the integration and devolution agenda. It also calls for greater collaboration between local government, Clinical Commissioning Groups and better alignment between health, social care and preventative services through Health and Wellbeing Boards.
Report co-author, David Buck, who is senior fellow, Public Health and Inequalities at the King’s Fund, said: “For too long district councils have been the sleeping giants of public health.
“Maximising their role in service delivery and the wider determinants of health will be crucial for the millions of people who live in district council areas.”