NICE is to gain new powers to advise local authorities in England and Wales about public health.
From 2013 responsibility for public health will be passed down from central to local government as part of the NHS reforms.
Today NICE has said that it will be responsible for producing new guidelines on public health advice to help promote best practice across the country.
The Institute said it would aim to make it “easier for directors of public health, elected members and senior officers in local authorities to find out which public health actions are most effective whilst also providing the best value for money”.
Professor Mike Kelly, director of the centre for public health excellence at NICE, said: “This new area of work is in addition to our ongoing programme producing public health guidance.
“The new NICE ‘Local Government Public Health Briefings’ documents will provide tailored practical advice for local councillors, directors of public health and other local government staff which they can adapt to local circumstances to help them meet their new public health responsibilities.”
He said these briefings would refine the recommendations from existing NICE public health and clinical guidance on a range of topics such as tackling tobacco and obesity, increasing physical activity, and topics on alcohol and health.
The overall aim is that these briefings will help raise awareness of the public health approaches that are proven to be effective, and how they can not only improve the health of local people, but also save money.
Public health is key to cost-effectiveness
The announcement comes as the Journal of Public Health publishes a paper, written by NICE, highlighting the evidence that public health interventions are good value for money.
This paper is the first comprehensive list of cost-effectiveness estimates for public health interventions in England.
Professor Kelly, who also co-authored the article in the JPH, said that given the current economic climate, it was even more important than ever to make best use of limited resources.
“This research not only proves unequivocally that prevention is better than cure, but just how highly cost-effective the public health interventions recommended by NICE really are.
“A huge 85% of public health interventions were cost-effective at a threshold of £20,000 per quality-adjusted life year - this is considerably less than the extra cost per unit of health gained that the NHS often pays for clinical interventions, such as drug treatments.
“With this clear indication of the value of public health action, and its potential to save resources whilst improving health, we look forward to extending our portfolio of public health products to provide more support to the local government sector,” he concluded.
Wednesday, December 07, 2011
NICE gains wider public health role | InPharm