Tories Launch Public Health Plans

A Conservative government would give local public health bosses their own budget to tackle issues such as obesity and alcohol abuse. The proposal is one of a raft put out for a three-month consultation by the party on Friday.

Another idea is to rename the Health Secretary as the Public Health Secretary. Shadow health secretary Andrew Langley said a shake-up of public health was badly needed.

The Conservatives said rates of obesity, sexually transmitted infections and alcohol-related deaths had soared under the Labour government. Launching the new proposals, they said a Conservative government would reverse the “fragmentation and lack of accountability” which had plagued Labour’s public health policy.

A new structure would allow local directors of public health to determine how best to spend funds so that they had maximum impact at local level. Giving them an independent budget would ensure that funds were available to be spent on preventative measures to improve public health without the danger that they would be raided to support hospitals in deficit.

The Conservatives also plan to beef up the Chief Medical Officer’s Department, making it more independent of ministers. Andrew Lansley, the Shadow health secretary, said: “A transformation in Britain’s approach to public health is needed in order to improve general health and wellbeing.

“Public health is everyone’s responsibility, not just a state responsibility. Labour has failed to respond to public health challenges like the rise in obesity, sexually transmitted disease and alcohol abuse. We need a government which provides the right legislative and administrative framework for the delivery of public health services at the grass roots level.

“That’s why we are launching a consultation to improve on the statutory role in tackling public health challenges. Action needs to be taken now in order to secure the long-term sustainability of the NHS.”