In July I blogged about VHS’s growing involvement in the Public Health Reform Programme. A lot has happened since then, so it’s time for another update.
As a member of the overall Public Health Oversight Board (PHOB) for the past year, my job has been to ensure that our sector is as fully embedded as possible in the future plans for public health. Other key players on the third sector and community development front have been fellow PHOB members Billy Watson of SAMH and Fiona Garven of Scottish Community Development Centre (SCDC), along with Susan Paxton of Community Health Exchange (CHEX) who is on the Programme Board. More recently, we have succeeded in getting other third sector colleagues involved, as Commissions have been established (see below) and with the setting up of a Whole Systems Steering Group.
In collaboration with SCVO, CHEX, VHS and others, the Scottish Government is organising a stakeholder event: Public Health Reform: Developing a Shared Ambition for the Third Sector taking place Wednesday 14th November in Edinburgh. Ahead of that, on 10th October there is a further important milestone in the shape of a Scottish Government event called Realising Scotland’s Public Health Priorities: Innovating for Change.
In August Ministers finally decided that Public Health Scotland will be established as a Special Health Board. This will ease the task of bringing together the existing functions of NHS Health Scotland, Health Protection Scotland and Information Services Division as well as establishing new functions.
Over and above the practical task of setting up Public Health Scotland and the efforts to engage all stakeholders across sectors, an enormous amount of complex and challenging work is underway through the joint commissioning process that partners from across Scotland are leading. As Gareth Brown, Policy and Programme Director for Public Health Reform in the Scottish Government, comments in his latest blog on the Public Health Reform website, the importance of these commissions and their overall contribution to creating the new body cannot be underestimated. The commissioning process is designed to embrace a process of co‑production and to bring different people and perspectives together. Key Commissions now have third sector representation, as has the Whole Systems Steering Group.
Third Sector Involvement in Commissions:
- Improving Health: Susan Paxton, CHEX; Irene Oldfather, Health and Social Care Alliance
- Protecting Scotland’s Health: Claire Stevens, VHS
- Health and Care Services: Joanne Adamson, Macmillan
- Leadership for Public Health Workforce Development: Alison Christie, Coalition of Care Providers Scotland (CCPS)
- Leadership for Public Health Research: Steven Marwick, Evaluation Support Scotland
- Specialist Public Health Workforce: Ella Simpson, Edinburgh Voluntary Organisations Council (EVOC)
Third sector involvement in over-arching groups
- Public Health Oversight Board: Fiona Garven, SCDC; Billy Watson, SAMH; Claire Stevens, VHS
- Programme Board: Susan Paxton, CHEX
- Whole Systems Steering Group: Ruth Gallagher, East Renfrewshire TSI
I hope that this blog gives a flavour of the extent and pace of reform that is underway. It is my view that this programme should be viewed as every bit as significant as the health and social care integration programme. As yet, public health reform has been almost entirely invisible to large parts of our sector but that should start to change. The significance of the reform lies in an increasingly shared ambition – across the Scottish Government, COSLA, CPPs, NHS, professional bodies and third sector – to really pull together and harness the expertise and experience of all agencies working with and across communities. In moving forward, the agreed national priorities are a key milestone:
- A Scotland where we live in vibrant, healthy and safe places and communities.
- A Scotland where we flourish in our early years.
- A Scotland where we have good mental wellbeing.
- A Scotland where we reduce the use of and harm from alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.
- A Scotland where we have a sustainable, inclusive economy with equality of outcomes for all.
- A Scotland where we eat well, have a healthy weight and are physically active.