Over the past few weeks, as the local government year starts to ramp up, a number of newly elected councillors have asked me for some basic reading on Public Health. This is my suggested list for them. Perhaps you could suggest some?
Here is as promised at the induction seminar the self-reading guide to getting your head round public health. There are many more topics than those below, and I merely set out some of the more important. Perhaps the best thing is to come and talk and if you want material on specific issues like drugs, or children and young people, I will supply you with a list.
Public Health principles: the very basics
Public Health is about working with populations, out of a framework of analysis, evidence and an intention to promote and protect their health. This involves working with a range of determinants of health from education levels to health behaviours and the various threats and hazards to our health which arise from the environment (naturally occurring diseases) and from the products and progress of contemporary society (air pollution for example). Poverty and inequity lurk behind most poor health like an eminence grise et horrible. In my own mind, neither individual nor societal explanations for the burden of disease and ill-health and poor flourishing our society carries are sufficient. Both must be held in dynamic tension to elucidate what the issue is and what we can do. Equally, Public Health is not, to me, purely a science. It is an application of various sciences and art. Epidemiology and Leadership, Evidence and Influencing come together or lie ineffective. They are a blend, if you will.
We now have three out of 6 short e-learning video presentations on what public health is on Herts Health Evidence https://www.hertshealthevidence.org/ and more will be added soon. You should be able to access these free by requesting an account at the site.
The Open University has a variety of free online courses here http://www.open.edu/openlearn/body-mind/health/public-health
If you wanted a book, then my best bet to start would be Virginia Berridge’s Public Health: A Very Short Introduction Oxford University Press, 2016. Let me know if you have difficulty finding this, I can track it down easily in London next time I’m there. There are many more choices after that from classics like Donaldson and Donaldson’s essential public health through to Geraint Lewis’ Mastering Public Health which is to my mind far more useful than Donaldson and Donaldson.
English Policy on Public Health and NHS (because Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland all have very different systems.)
The easy read on the last seven years of policy history (about which I could talk without cease and without notes) is this from the Kings Fund https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/projects/verdict/has-government-delivered-new-era-public-health and this set of videos https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/audio-video/public-health-spending-roi . A further read is here https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/publications/improving-publics-health
I think you can trust the King’s Fund an independent health think tank. It’s well respected
Responsibilities of Local Authorities
In terms of the key Public Health Responsibilities in local government, the choices are endless so I would go for the list below
- The basic guidance (there is an awful lot more) http://www.fph.org.uk/uploads/DPH_Guidance_Final_v6.pdf
- The Local Government Association www.local.gov.uk publications are always extremely valuable and I suggest these two as starters https://www.local.gov.uk/lga-annual-public-health-report-four-years
But there are many more from the LGA, and the LGA website has an invaluable series of publications for local authorities on public health. I am of course biased but the Association of Directors of Public Health blog has a series of very short pieces. http://www.adph.org.uk/category/pblog/ and it’s worth checking our updates here http://www.adph.org.uk/
The Local Government Mental Health Challenge website is a very useful starting place to some of the issues http://www.mentalhealthchallenge.org.uk/ I find this guide on system wide (population or public health approaches to mental health) commissioning principles useful http://www.jcpmh.info/wp-content/uploads/jcpmh-publicmentalhealth-guide.pdf and Finally, the Mental Health Foundation’s report is very good https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/better-mental-health-all-public-health-approach-mental-health-improvement
The Marmot Report is probably the best starting place https://www.local.gov.uk/marmot-review-report-fair-society-healthy-lives but there is also a social sciences answer to it too, which makes specific policy proposals, some of which we have adopted in Herts https://www.britac.ac.uk/sites/default/files/If%20you%20could%20do%20one%20thing%20-%20full%20report.pdf
The NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plans
I would look no further than the reports from The King’s Fund https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/topics/sustainability-transformation-plans
I suggest pick these and come and have a coffee and ask any question you like, or we can even do a seminar for your group or whoever.
Happy reading. I should finish on one note. If you are confused, then you join the rest of us. If it all makes perfect sense, then you really have missed at least one important thing.