The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), which
represents 23,000 planners worldwide working in the private,
public, education and charity sectors, today welcomed the
publication of the Communities and Local Government Select
Committee report on its inquiry into the Role of English local
authorities in health issues.
The report welcomed the return of public health
responsibilities, and in particular the opportunity for local
councils to focus all their activities from education to housing,
on the health and wellbeing of their local residents.
Richard Blyth, Head of Policy Practice and Research,
said: "The RTPI is pleased that the CLG Select Committee
has largely reflected our views, highlighting the key role which
planning professionals can play on Health and Wellbeing Boards.
Furthermore, the report acknowledged the vital role which housing
plays in public health, an issue we have constantly sought to push
to the front of the public health agenda.
We are also pleased that more guidance has been given on the
interrelationships between the various new public health bodies
involved in commissioning services, which the Institute had called
for in our written evidence. However, we still feel that the report
could have gone further in some areas, such as addressing the
economic and social benefits of locating health services on High
What the RTPI said:
Health improvements will not be achieved by
improvements in just one part of the system alone, and a
whole-system approach to health issues must be adopted.
- The Committee notes that councils will 'need to use every
power, department and service at their disposal if they are fully
to grasp this opportunity and tackle the causes of poor
- The Committee further recommended that 'the successful
operation of Health and Wellbeing Boards is crucial to the new
arrangements. Boards should aim to be creative by including where
possible those individuals with responsibility for the social
determinants of health, including those working in education,
planning and economic development.'
holistic approach to measuring improvements in health issues needs
to be introduced across local and national
- In the RTPI's written submission to the Committee, we stated
that: 'The RTPI believes that a holistic approach to measuring
performance should be introduced, encompassing aspects of
improvement across society, brought about through improvements in
the provision of public health. Improvements in public health will
lead to wider improvements in areas such as economic recovery for
an area, increased employment, and reduced crime rates.'
- The report notes that 'given the complex, multi-faceted nature
of the social determinants of health, determining the success of
general - population-wide - or specific initiatives will be
difficult, time-consuming and may ultimately distract those working
on them from making progress. Short-term success can be
demonstrated relatively quickly, and without distracting from
longer-term objectives, by, for example, improvement in readiness
for school rates, the number of NEETs in a local area and by all
HWB members working to increase patient registration with GPs in
order to identify those with long-term conditions and to prescribe
treatment for them.'
Vital that strategies prepared by health and wellbeing boards
are fully taken into account into the commissioning plans of
clinical commissioning groups.
- The Committee
noted that the RTPI had pointed out that, although 'the draft
guidance on Joint Strategic Needs Assessments and Joint Health and
Wellbeing Strategies states that the NHS commissioning Board can
take action if the [commissioning] plan doesn't take into account
the JHWS' but we had pointed out that 'what action can be taken is
not laid out'. This issue was later clarified in supplementary
written evidence provided by the Government (para 44).
The Eighth Report of the Communities and Local Government Select
Committee - The role of local authorities in health issues, can be
For more on planning and health, join our
Planning and Health Linkedin Discussion Forum.
Read our written evidence to the Communities
and Local Government here.
Read and listen to our Head of Policy, Practice and Research,
Richard Blyth, give evidence to the Communities and Local
Government Select Committee in November 2012.