NHS staff have moved to Surrey County Council a year before the authority officially takes responsibility for public health.
Sixty-five members of the public health team have transferred to council offices across the county. Surrey’s public health transfer is among the first wave taking place nationally as part of a reorganisation of the NHS.
Under the reforms, councils will become responsible for public health work relating to issues such as smoking, alcohol and obesity, from April 2013*.
The overall aim of the public health team is to protect and improve health and wellbeing and reduce health inequalities in communities.
The role also includes dealing with public health emergencies and supporting GPs who are forming into groups to take responsibility for planning and buying services.
In Surrey, the county council will also link up with district and boroughs because of the close links between housing, leisure and health.
The early move follows the council and NHS jointly appointing Surrey’s director of public health, Dr Akeem Ali, in 2010.
Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health Michael Gosling said: “The good work we’ve already done in partnership with the NHS has made this early transfer possible and we’re delighted to welcome our health colleagues into their new home.
“They have been brought in a year early so that we can work as one team to put in all the preparation needed to hit the ground running when the changes come into effect.
“This change means our public health role will go alongside the work we’re already doing in social care and education to help people lead healthier lives and will see us linking up closely with other councils on housing and leisure.
Dr Ali said: “Public health outcomes will become critical to what the council does, and will be a natural fit with our responsibilities for social care, education, housing and leisure. Surrey already has a good track record of partnership working across health and social care and this move will further strengthen existing relationships, while boosting our ability to deliver better prevention initiatives and health and wellbeing outcomes.”
The public health staff will remain NHS Surrey employees until the council fully takes over next April. But from now on the team can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 020 8541 7976.
* Public health specialists will continue to support GPs and their clinical groups as they take on the commissioning of healthcare for their communities.