Public health professionals will need to “radically” change their approach to working with others when they move from primary care trusts to local authorities, a group of specialists has advised.

The integration of the public health workforce within councils should not be seen as a case of “click and drag” from PCTs, according to a report based on a round table meeting in November and shared with HSJ (see attached, right).

The summit discussed how public health providers and commissioners should work together in future to improve outcomes and reduce health inequalities.

It was organised by the quango Solutions for Public Health and involved 40 representatives from the NHS, councils and organisations such as the Association of Directors of Public Health.

The report said public health teams, which had been accused of being “too purist” in the past, needed to change their approach and become translators of “complex” information for councils and clinical commissioning groups.

It stated: “The move of NHS public health teams into local authorities can help with translation of intelligence from a range of sources but only if they adopt a different approach which is perceived as less academic, more pragmatic and focused on practical solutions.”

Public health teams needed to be “seen as a service to commissioning functions rather than empires in their own right”, the report said. This would need a change to a more “facilitative” style and one that sought outcome delivery “through others”.

The report added: “A key advantage of the [structural] changes will be the ability to foster closer working with, and active engagement from, public health practitioners in the local government and primary care workforces such as environmental health officers, pharmacists and health visitors.”