Medicopolitical Digest

Public health conferencePrimary care trusts present opportunity for public healthChairman welcomes broad brush policyNHS must take any charge of racism seriouslyClinical governance has opportunitiesCremation form should be abolishedThe conference …

BMJ 1999; 318 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.318.7199.1703 (Published 19 June 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:1703

Primary care trusts present opportunity for public health

Public health doctors welcome the opportunity to work more closely with their general practitioner colleagues in primary care groupsPCGs)and primary care trusts (PCTs) in England and their equivalent inother countries in the United Kingdom.

At last week's conference of public and community health doctors there was a unanimous vote for a consultant in public health to be on the board of each trust.

Dr Sarah Taylor, who chairs the Committee of Public Health Medicine andCommunity Health, pointed to some of the opportunities for closer cooperation in a paper presented at the conference. There were several organisational features which had not featured in the NHS over the past decade—for example, primary care led decision making on planning and the use of resources; a mechanism for collective decision making on planning and the use of resources; a potential to remove some of the organisational barriers between secondary and primary and community care; a strategic planning framework that was driven by health priorities; direct relationships between health and other policy areas,such as social, environmental, and economic; and a major drive on quality and equity.

There are some threats

There were also threats, and these were highlighted in the conference's decisions. There was a call for the government togive clear and unequivocal guidelines on the public health contributiontoPCGs and especially on the assessment of the health needs of the population. The conference said that the needs of the population for public health medical advice and specialist community health services must be protected as PCGs and PCTs are set up. It was concerned that the fragmentation of services by PCTs would lead to a reduction in the quality of service delivery to children with disabilities and those with mental health needs. The meeting called on the government to provide sufficient funds to support the development of PCGs' public health …

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