A government response to the public health white paper consultation will not be published until July, Department of Health officials have told MPs.
Appearing before the all party parliamentary group on primary care and public health this week, they said responses to Healthy Lives, Healthy People were being analysed but it would be “inappropriate” to act during the Health and Social Care Bill listening exercise.
DH public health development unit deputy director Tim Baxter said: “We are aiming to produce a command paper which will set out more of the policy in response to the consultation documents… in July.”
DH director of international health and public health delivery Kathryn Tyson said: “By coincidence we happen to be in a period of analysing the responses to the consultation, anyway, so no sudden movement can be expected before summer recess.
But she added: “Ministers are not making any public announcements around policy on the public health changes because that would not be in the spirit of the pause.”
Ms Tyson said “work and thinking” around the transfer of public health from primary care trusts to local authorities should continue, however – in the same way that commissioning consortia were continuing to establish themselves.
She told MPs: “Work, thinking and relationship building between PCT directors of public health and local health authorities will continue. Causing that to pause would be absolutely ridiculous – it is very important for those relationships to be established strongly.
But she said: “No stakes are being set in the sand during this period, because that would be inappropriate.”
HSJ’s sister title Local Government Chronicle understands many public health directors would now prefer to be employed by the future Public Health England than by local authorities, due to uncertainty about their level of influence in councils.
DH officials were appearing before the parliamentary group as part of a follow up to its inquiry report on the public health white paper, which was published in April.