Council Juggles Budget For Public Health Duties

St Mary's Hospital

St Mary’s Hospital

It’s unclear whether the money allocated to our Council to take over public health services will be enough to fund the ‘ideal service.’

It’s part of the government’s plans to move more services from the NHS to local authority Health and Wellbeing boards.

Aisling Hick told members of the Policy and Resources committee that she’d calculated how much it would cost to deliver the statutory services, including areas such as sexual health, alcohol abuse, smoking cessation and regular adult health checks.

Scilly will partner with Cornwall Council to deliver many of the services here, and Aisling says they’ve managed to trim the budget by reducing the amount of time Cornwall’s director of public health will spend working for the islands.

The first estimate of £103,000 has been reduced to £71,000, closer to the amount allocated by the government, although Aisling asked councillors if she could keep an extra £10,000 as a contingency for any unexpected expenditure.

“In May, I’ll say I haven’t bought the condoms,” she said.

One issue for councillors to grapple with is the lack of baseline data, specific to Scilly, against which to set targets. It’s something we share with only one other local authority, the City of London.

Cllr Dudley Mumford said we’re ‘lumped’ into Cornwall, which makes it hard to see the effects of factors such as transport problems.

Aisling explained that the low numbers here mean that data such as cancer deaths can be obtained, but they just can’t be reported, as it could identify individuals.

Cllr David Pearson expressed his concern that local authorities will struggle with the transfer of services from the NHS. He said Scilly was fortunate to be tied in with another council, who have a very experienced public health official.

David said they’ll need to keep a close eye on expenditure and any extra duties that will be added by the government in the future. “They’ll not want to put extra money in,” he said.

Cllr Richard McCarthy shared his concerns, saying, “if we can’t deliver what the government wants, it may well be their fault, but they’ll blame us.”