The Conservative Party's plan to transform public health by creating independent local budgets has divided experts.

Some have praised the Tory consultation paper on public health for 'going the extra mile' but others claim that it fails to address the most pressing issues. The paper proposes independent local public health budgets, to avoid funds intended for public health being raided to pay off NHS deficits.

Other proposals include strengthening the chief medical officer's department and creating a secretary of state for public health.

It says the allocation of public health budgets directly to PCTs is a 'fatal flaw', adding: 'Public health budgets should not be provided directly to PCTs, but instead be held separately and independently by the secretary of state for public health.' Funds would be ringfenced and distributed via local public health directors to reflect inequalities in health outcomes between areas.

Association of Directors of Public Health president Tim Crayford 'broadly welcomed' the paper. He said: 'The present administration has done a wonderful job of highlighting deteriorating public health but the sums allocated have largely disappeared as finances have tightened.

'We have got to ringfence funds for the benefit of the whole community, not just the NHS.'

However, he said the Conservatives needed to provide details, such as where funds would be held and whether local government cash would be included.

But Alan Maynard, professor of health economics at York University, labelled the policy proposals 'confused and confusing' and said it failed to answer specifically how the Conservatives would tackle problems such as diabetes. He said: 'They don't address how ringfenced budgets will be spent on evidence-based interventions.

'It would have been useful to get into what treatments work and whether we have the right to coerce people into taking them up. They've spotted the right areas but the problem is how do we change people's behaviour. There are major industrial implications - for example working with food retailers on obesity - and it would be good to see them facing up to that.'

The paper comes in the same week Conservative leader David Cameron attacked Labour's health policy, accusing the party of turning the NHS into a 'vast, inhuman machine'.