Reforms spark call for better comms on public health issues

Comms must do more and reach further to cope with the upcoming public health reforms, a landmark roadshow has suggested.

Reforms: Councils will oversee public health issues such as smoking
Reforms: Councils will oversee public health issues such as smoking

Sweeping reforms are set to hit cash-strapped local authorities this spring as they take on responsibility for public health issues such as smoking.

And now a figure at the heart of efforts to gauge preparations ahead of the April transfer has warned that PROs must fight to convey their messages about the issue.

Andy Allsopp, head of corporate comms at Hounslow Council, has led work on an LGComms roadshow that toured the country to document the hopes and concerns of those affected by the transfer.

‘It is a huge opportunity and a huge challenge, as it involves comms teams influencing far more broadly across their org-anisations in a way they may not have done before,’ he said. 

The roadshow involved senior figures affected by the change gathering at three roundtable discussions.

The findings are set to be discussed at a final meeting to take place in London shortly. They include input from figures including council CEOs and NHS comms heads.

A report on the meetings summarised the views from across the country, with those in the North East sharing ‘concerns around resource, establishing priorities and ensuring that national messages can be delivered on a local level.’

Allsopp said that a recent public health funding settlement in which councils were given £2.6bn was more than expected, but added: ‘This isn’t about money, it’s about behavioural change, and the way to make public health work is to embed it in all aspects of the authority. It’s up to us to make every contact we have with the public count.’

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