From 1st April 2013 Essex County Council will take over the responsibility of managing health budgets. Currently there are 5 Primary Care Trusts in Essex which manage health spending in Essex for all doctors, pharmacists and opticians. However, these trusts are to be scrapped and replaced by a new Clinical Commissioning Group which is led by GP’s and overseen by Essex County Council.
Last week Essex CC chose the 5 key areas of health which require extra funding and focus. They are:
- Smoking, alcohol and drug misuse
- Beast Feeding
- Physical Activity
- Mental Health
The Department of Health has agreed to give Essex County Council grants amounting to around £49 million for 2013 – 2014, and £50 million for the following year.
It is good to see that obesity and physical activity are both on the agenda. There are already exercise referral schemes and we have seen improvements to council run gyms this year, but we do need more investment in schemes to get people active and educate them about the dangers of junk food and processed food. If you are keen to start improving your lifestyle you may want to take a look at our page on Health And Fitness In Essex.
Obesity is actually a very complex problem and one that is possibly harder to tackle than smoking. Laws have been changed to deter smoking – public smoking bans, increasing the age at which you can purchase tobacco, increasing tax, de-branding cigarette packets, keeping tobacco products under the counter have all helped reduce smoking – but it will be harder to tackle the food industry and teach people that obesity can lead to health conditions as bad as smoking.
The extra funding for Mental Health is probably mostly to help with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Last month the EADT reported that 32% of dementia sufferers in Essex are properly diagnosed, and many people with dementia face a rapidly declining quality of healthcare.
Breast feeding is another major health issue as many mothers now opt to bottle feed newborns, which has been shown to have the potential to negatively affect the health of both the mother and the baby.
Clinical Commissioning Groups
Health budgets will be managed by separate divisions of the Clinical Commissioning Group, just as there were 5 Primary Care Trusts in Essex. The new divisions are split into North Essex and South Essex:
- NHS Mid Essex CCG
- NHS North East Essex CCG
- NHS West Essex CCG
- NHS Basildon and Brentwood CCG
- NHS Castle Point, Rayleigh, and Rochford CCG
- NHS Southend CCG
- NHS Thurrock Managed Care CCG