Public Sector: PCTs given cash windfall for local health comms

Primary Care Trusts across England have been handed an extra £500m to help promote health on a local level as the Government sets out fresh plans to tackle health issues such as child obesity.

English PCTs, of which there are more than 200, will each have a share of the extra cash for comms programmes and policy implementation over the next three years. It will fund initiatives such as personal health plans for children, the introduction of local targets, and increased partnership with NGOs.

The PCTs will support a national campaign on obesity, which will pilot in 2006 and launch in 2007, and a £300m nationwide sexual health campaign, which is expected to launch by 2006.

The proposals were outlined in last week's Department of Health publication 'Delivering Choosing Health', which set out how pledges made last November will be put into practice.

The DoH - which is led by Health Secretary John Reid - promised an aggressive marketing strategy that would adopt the tactics of the commercial sector to make healthy lifestyles more appealing (PRWeek, 19 November 2004).

DoH director of comms Sian Jarvis said: 'The money for communications activity hasn't been ringfenced as each PCT will have its own priorities.

One area may need to promote smoking cessation, while another may have a problem with diabetes.'

As part of the DoH's wider drive to clamp down on health inequality, 88 PCTs with particular problems will receive a greater share of the money available for comms and policy implementation, the DoH said.

Community matrons, responsible for the care of the long-term ill, will help devise children's personal plans. The plans are contracts where kids will agree what they intend to eat and the exercise they will do.

Kate Nicholas, p22.

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