Public health specialists in local authorities should spend roughly 40 per cent of their resources advising new healthcare commissioners, according to draft guidance launched this week.
The Health Bill would make it mandatory for public health teams in councils to supply expert advice and support to new clinical commissioning groups.
The draft guidance – compiled by a group of doctors, public health experts and representatives from adult social care and the Local Government Association – sets out the scope of that role and advises on capacity.
The core service councils should provide includes interpreting health data, identifying vulnerable groups and advising on their health needs, helping set health priorities, and providing expert public health advice needed to plan and shape services, says the document.
“Local authorities will be free to deliver this obligation in a variety of ways, for example in relatively small authorities it may make sense to locate a team in a single authority, which will deliver the service on behalf of several local authorities,” it adds.
Currently public health directors and specialists spend between 25 per cent and 50 per cent of their time on this kind of work, found a survey by the Association of Directors of Public Health.
The guidance recommends councils should plan for about 40 per cent of their public health specialist team to work with CCGs with roughly one full-time equivalent member of staff needed to cover a population of 270,000.
It advocates the development of local service level agreements between public health teams and CCGs via a compact or Memorandum of Understanding, underpinned by an annual work plan and an annual joint report by the director of public health and commissioning body.