A public health leader has called for commissioning consortia to be compelled to “work through” health inequality plans with public health specialists once they transfer to local councils.  

NHS North Lancashire public health director Frank Atherton, who is also president of the Association of Directors of Public Health, said “clarity is required” on how consortia will be accountable for outcomes.

In his primary care trust’s response to the public health white paper, Mr Atherton said the proposals “lack clarity over responsibility for providing ‘local system leadership’ and planning services across GP consortium boundaries”.

He noted it did “not appear” to oblige consortia to protect the health of their population. This “could result in the NHS not giving [public health] sufficient priority with consequent risks to health outcomes,” he warned.

“GP consortia should be required to work through and with directors of public health” to ensure consortium decision making is underpinned by expert advice.

“Directors of public health should have a formal relationship with GP consortia (possibly through a defined service level agreement approach),” he said.