Public Sector: LGComms in public health reforms focus

LGComms is spearheading a drive to address concerns as landmark public health reforms give comms teams their 'biggest challenge' in years.

The industry body is set to launch a survey and series of talks across the country ahead of public health being transferred to local authorities next April.

Affected decision makers in comms and beyond will be canvassed for their views on the move, which will see local councils take on responsibility for issues such as smoking.

LGComms chairman Cormac Smith said the move was in reaction to the 'massive changes' set to hit local government and related authorities, which have already been hit by cuts: 'This is the biggest single challenge that faces local government communicators.

'It's exciting because we get to put our hands on more levers of influence. However, it is a massive additional responsibility and in the current environment we are often being asked to do more with less.'

Under the new system, Health and Wellbeing Boards will be set up in local areas to help councils deliver services.

LGComms will send out a survey to gauge concerns ahead of holding four meetings on the issue.

Three will take place in Newcastle, Coventry and Somerset over the coming months, with PROs from across the country invited to join key figures in the roundtable discussions.

A final one will be held in London in December.

Smith added: 'We need to make sure councils are sufficiently prepared, as anecdotally this has been quite patchy. When we have drawn all the information together then we can act accordingly.'

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