While politically Reading Labour councillors including myself are completely against the Health bill and believe it will damage, and possibly destroy our NHS we have to plan for the future. Councils are proposed to have an increased role in public health under the bill, one of the things that may not be so bad about it. Obviously the down side is that we don't really get commensurate money to go with it...
Anyway to ensure that this happens as smoothly as possible we're running a public consultation on public health and health services to plan the future. This is something that the government most certainly hasn't asked us to do and certain local coalition councillors have expressed concerns including one on the grounds that 'uninformed members of the public' might be able to have a say about healthcare! Well what a shame - that started to become possible when we got universal sufferage...
Anyway It's absolutely right that given that the national government seems determined to press on in the face of opposition from Labour, Libdem peers, doctors, nurses, more doctors, Midwives, the patients association, radiologists etc, then while campaigning for withdrawal we have to plan for the bill to become law and make sure we get the best of a bad deal.
Of course this is going to and already involves local public health professionals but also needs to involve us, the public.
This is intended to be non-political. If you want to campaign against the bill write to your MP or sign the petition
Regardless of your view on the reform it's important to have your views:
To complete the online survey go here:
To read more about it and to find out about hte public meetings on this take a look on the council's website:
Council press release below:
A consultation to gather local views on the things that affect people's health and well-being is being launched today (February 7) by Reading Borough Council.
Let's Talk Health is part of the Council's 'Working Better With You' initiative, and will involve asking local residents to complete a questionnaire and attend discussion events across the town to identify how public health services can be more responsive to local needs.
Among the questions being posed are:
- How well do local services support you to improve your health by losing weight, stopping smoking, preventing drug or alcohol abuse, improving your diet etc?
- What are the things that are most important to the health and well-being of you and your family (eg affordable fitness sessions, access to parks and open spaces, parenting advice, transport services etc) and how could these be improved?
- How good or bad are local services like GPs, dentists, local hospitals, pharmacies, mental health etc?
The Council will use the results to shape its work, with other health partners, to ensure that the services that help people to lead healthy and long lives are working as effectively as possible.
As well as providing on-line and paper questionnaires, which will be available at libraries, leisure centres and other council buildings, as well as GP surgeries, dentists and local hospitals, Let's Talk Health will involve a series of public events aimed at getting people together to discuss public health services in the context of their local communities. There will also be a special 'select committee-type' event in which the public and health professionals will have an opportunity to talk about key health and well-being issues.
Councillor Bet Tickner, Lead Councillor for Public Engagement and Health said: 'Let's Talk Health will do exactly what it says on the tin. We want to get local people talking about public health services - what's good, what's not so good, and what we need to do more of to help people to lead long, healthy and happy lives.
'It's important for the Council, and its partners in the NHS, to know people's views now that big changes to the way the NHS is run are being discussed in parliament and may soon become law.
"I would like to encourage everyone in Reading to have their say. This is your chance to help us to help you by ensuring we are concentrating on the things that matter most to local people.'
Councillor Jan Gavin, Lead Councillor for Service Delivery and Improvement said: 'Local councillors are being given a new, wider role, working with the NHS and other health professionals, to protect and improve public health.
'GPs and hospitals will still be responsible for delivering front-line healthcare, but we want to ensure that all the other services that contribute to healthy lifestyles from counselling to cancer-screening - are working as effectively as possible.
'The questionnaire has been designed to be quick and easy to complete and it would be great if as many local residents as possible were able to take a few minutes to give us their views, either on-line or by completing the hard-copy version. The information we gather from Let's Talk Health will influence our work in this important area now and in the future.'