This site is intended for health professionals only

Councils to be paid for improvements in public health outcomes

By Lilian Anekwe

The Government intends to pay local councils for improvements in public health outcomes, according to plans set out in a consultation published today.

Amongst the proposals - developed by ministers and published in a consultation document on the public health outcomes framework - are plans for councils and local government authorities to be measured against a series of public health indicators.

The indicators include smoking prevalence in adults, rates of hospital admission for alcohol-related harm, the under 18 conception rate, work sickness absence rate, and rates of chlamydia infections in young adults aged 15 tio 24 years

And in some cases local councils will be paid a ‘health premium' – a financial incentives to encourage councils ‘to make progress on health improvement priorities and reduce health inequalities.'

Other indicators more related to primary care will not be incentivised through the public health outcomes framework, including emergency readmissions to hospital within 28 days of discharge, acute admissions due to falls in the over 65s, take up of NHS Health Checks, and the proportion of cancers diagnosed in the earlier stages of the disease.

The consultation, launched together with the NHS Outcomes Framework setting out the indicators on which NHS performance will be judged, insisted public health initiatives under the previous Government had too frequently been ‘central initiatives and targets, often well meaning, but without a hope of success when dictated to local areas.'

‘We propose to put in place a new strategic outcomes framework for public health at national and local levels, based on the evidence of where the biggest challenges are for health and wellbeing, and the wider factors that drive it.

‘This will be different to old-style top down frameworks used to drive targets and performance management – rather it will set out the outcomes for public health across public services and at all levels of responsibility – national to local.'

The consultation document is available on the DH website and will run until 31 March 2011.