The Public Health Consultation – Life Style Choices Are Important!

Wolverhampton City Council have been running a public Consultation on their plans for the Public Health going forward. That consultation period has now ended. I responded to that consultation within the period (4th February 2018) . Here is an extract of the views I made to that consultation. I have published it today for the public record. I am now in further contact with officials following through on some of the arguments made here.

“Dear Public Health Director –I wish to make a submission relating to the Public Health Policy that is currently out for consultation. I want to say that the life style choices issue is an important one. I also want to say that the keeping people healthy itinerary was working with our own Public Health Lifestyle choices staff member embedded in The Hub at Ashmore Park.

The fact that the community got to know Catherine helped tremendously in building up confidence to tackle the issues that we need to tackle, like ‘No Smoking’ Healthy Living, and tackling obesity. Also it was a very innovative Public Health Lifestyle member who saw the benefit of actually working with the three Councillors together in a partnership to deliver the ‘better’ outcomes that the City needs. I believe we are going to lose that staff member soon…that is a tremendous blow for us here in Wednesfield North.

The three City Councillors here in Wednesfield North recognise that “Public Health is about keeping people healthy and making sure everyone has the same opportunities to live a healthy life In Wolverhampton, that is why over the last few years we have worked in partnership with our Life Style Choices embedded staff member here in The Hub. We note that the Public Health are still mandated to provide NHS Health Checks, Health Visitors, Sexual Health Services, National Child Measurement Programme, Health Protection assurance and providing advice for the NHS, all these services will remain. So the mandate stays the same but the plan to get there will alter.  

Here are Wednesfield North Councillors view; they are based on the experience that we have gained by working with Catherine here at The Hub. We recognise that not many Local Councillors will have worked as closely with the Public Health staff as we have. But it is our view that working in partnership with Local Councillors can add value to the work being undertaken. The City Councils have weakened democratic visibility by the changes that they have made to services, and the way that we report outcomes.

Here in Wednesfield North Councillor Phil Bateman complained about the changes made to the Public Health Annual Report as it changed its reporting structure to take up themes in 2014. He  outlined his concerns with the following criticism to the then Director.“  He wrote “In the Public Health Report in 2012 ( again as an example) on Child Poverty in Wolverhampton it reported that a third of children in Wolverhampton are living in relative poverty. So what is happening now? Is it worse? Is it better?…are we losing track of the outcome?

We are currently cut off from seeing how we have done in tackling the problem, and the results are hidden away or produced elsewhere. Now I recognise that being critical of this reporting style will make me unpopular in certain quarters. But you either speak out or keep quiet. I am all for seeing these issues raised and answered in debate. It’s not that I am springing this issue onto the Director. I have raised these issues publicly previously and through my Face Book page, long before the latest report was published.” That criticism was written in 2014. Back to the current situation  – I am convinced that the public have a right to know on a broad front what the City is doing around a whole range of Public Health issues.

Keeping the Annual Report on Public Health about a main subject or theme obliterates the bigger picture and I am very much against that reporting style. I would appreciate a broader Annual Report covering the range of issues including the medical statistics, plus the mandated items.

Watering down the Public Health delivery is not the way forward. I get a real concern because I see the present proposals for the service, as being of a ‘watered down’ variety. I am not convinced that the changes being outlined in this consultation document is going to take us forward as a healthy City.

I recognise that the City has less money for the duties it has to deliver. But please lets not think that the outcomes will be better than those arrangements that they are replacing. They will not be in total. I feel that the loss of the Children’s Centres have impacted badly on the City. The fact that the services they provided here in Wednesfield North were fundamental to the themes now being re-organised again. Democratic accountability of the services they provided has been lost from sight! Local Councillors are no longer involved in developing local services, for example breast feeding, baby massage classes, all the things that took place within the local Children’s Centres.

Now it is all change yet again.

I am convinced that if the City Council moves forward on the current path, the Public Health goals will be better reached by using the current Hubs as a means to delivery. There is so much more these popular centres can do. Local Councillors can be encouraged to work with Local Campaigns like anti-smoking campaigns. Please see the attachments provided to give you a feel for what can be achieved. I am receiving reports that Local Doctors surgeries are also being used to deliver these aims. The Local doctors are not providing the front line services that people expect them to do with any ease. Loading up the preventative messages and expecting them to be delivered by doctors surgeries is a pipe dream! They are far to busy dealing with the medical needs of the population. It will be a patchy affair. I hope these views will be helpful.





Phil Bateman

Phil Bateman is Married to Mary and lives in Wednesfield North. He was a long serving local politician having served previously on the now defunct West Midlands County Council... read more