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Jury’s out on the value of Public Health England

Jury’s out on the value of Public Health England

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It is “too soon to tell” whether Public Health England (PHE) is achieving value for money claims the National Audit Office (NAO) but it had made a “good start”.

The NAO said spending on public health "varies widely" between different areas and that this was "not surprising" given local differences.

However concerns were raised about some localities and how funding was allocated. Areas where alcohol abuse had increased between 2010/2011 were spending less than areas where levels of abuse had fallen.

"Some local authority spending decisions are not yet fully aligned with areas of concern," it was concluded.

The report also highlighted the continued wide gaps in healthy life expectancy, which for men ranges from 52.5 years in Tower Hamlets to 70 years in Richmond upon Thames.

Since its formation in April 2013, PHE has been responsible for supporting local health services by promoting healthier lifestyles to reduce differences in life expectancy across the country

The PHE is currently receiving a £2.7 billion grant to help carry out its role but no decision regarding how long this funding will continue.

According to the Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, PHE’s “ability to influence and support public health could be tested further if the grant paid to local authorities were no longer to be ring-fenced”.

He said: “PHE is accountable for achieving the public health outcomes the Department of Health wants, but it is local authorities who are responsible for delivering improved public health.

“The agency is developing a good relationship with its local stakeholders to whom it is providing tools, support and advice. There is a difficult balance to be struck between localism and the agency’s responsibility for improving health

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