Sheffield prepares for health shake-up

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TACKLING smoking, obesity, alcohol abuse and drug use in Sheffield is to become the responsibility of councillors from next year, under sweeping reforms to the health system.

Sheffield Council will take over control of public health, along with a £28 million budget and 65 staff.

The authority will become accountable for the control of drug and alcohol misuse services, tobacco control, weight management, nutrition, and health awareness campaigns.

NHS Sheffield - the Primary Care Trust which currently commissions all health services in the city - is to be abolished on March 31 next year.

The city’s director of public health, Dr Jeremy Wight, briefed councillors on plans to put into action the Coalition’s Health and Social Care Bill.

Dr Wight, speaking in front of the healthier communities scrutiny committee yesterday, said: “Public health is part of every aspect of council business.

“There is no one part that does public health more than others.

“We will have a public health hub and with functions allocated to the different council portfolios.”

He said the council will have to retain strong links with the NHS, but was in a good position to affect services which impact health, including transport, housing and green spaces.

Under the reforms the new Clinical Commissioning Group - a small committee of eight GPs, a nurse, four lay advisors and three officials - will take control of £700 million, or 71 per cent, of the city’s health commissioning budget.

But Dr Wight said: “GPs cannot commission their own services, so the commissioning for GP and dental services and some specialist care such as neonatal intensive care will be done by a new NHS Commissioning Board which will have a local branch.”