Many will be following the progress of the Health and Social Care Bill, which signals significant changes in the NHS, not least by proposing the transfer of full responsibility for public health services from PCTs to local authorities by 2013- 14. A recent study by MHP Health Mandate (extracts of which were published in the Health Service Journal (HSJ) on 22 September 2011) however warns of an “uneven preparedness” among councils in respect of the fastapproaching deadline.

According to the HSJ article, out of the 72 per cent of authorities who responded to Freedom of Information Act requests, only 54 per cent had a “definition” of public health, and nearly a third reported that they had had no communication with their PCT or emerging clinical commissioning groups in the last year on public health issues. Furthermore, 27 per cent of councils were unable to provide any details of the funding they received from PCTs to provide public health services.

Commenting on the local authority progress, MHP Health Mandate managing director Mike Birtwistle stated “Many have made good progress, but for others there is a long way to go and unless this is addressed there is a danger that quality could go backwards”. While there remains time for local authorities to address the concerns raised, these early findings suggest that there remains work to be done.