Helping councils to improve the health of their local communities

In 2014/15, we added to our portfolio of local government briefings with 9 new briefings providing information about the recommendations and evidence reviews from NICE that local government can call upon when commissioning public health services.

The briefings can help councillors and local authority staff find out which public health actions are most effective in improving the health of people in their area, while also providing the best value for money. They are also relevant to commissioners and directors of adult social care and children’s services.

Based on recommendations from existing NICE guidance and quality standards, the briefings have been developed with input from councillors, local government officers, and others with an interest in community health and wellbeing and social care to ensure that they met the needs of the user.

Prevent over 100,000 premature deaths each year

Our briefing on tackling the causes of premature mortality, published in February 2015, focuses on the actions that local authorities can take to reduce early death; to address lifestyle issues that lead to poor health; to improve access to services; and to prevent unintentional injuries.

“Taking early action to tackle issues such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and obesity could save about 103,000 people from dying early each year in England”

Prof Gill Leng, NICE

The briefing highlights the opportunity for local authorities to connect the work they have been doing for years on the wider factors behind poor health, to their more recent remit for supporting healthier lifestyles for individuals and communities.

Examples of effective actions highlighted in the new briefing include:

  • helping prevent, detect and manage infectious and chronic clinical conditions that can lead to premature mortality, using, for example, NHS Health Check and routine and opportunistic screening
  • ensuring leisure and other services are affordable, culturally acceptable and accessible to all, including women who wish to breastfeed
  • introducing integrated population-wide programmes that address local health inequalities and improve access for those who do not routinely use services
  • creating, protecting and manage safe spaces for physical activity and plan local facilities and services to ensure they are accessible on foot or by bicycle. This includes reviewing local bye laws that may discourage physical activity and using pricing and educational initiatives.

Focus care on the needs of the resident

We produced a local government briefing on the health and care of older people in care homes in February 2015, following concerns that residents are being mistreated.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) introduced a new inspection regime for care home in October 2014, and has issued guidance on the use of hidden cameras to monitor care.

The briefing summarises NICE’s key guidance and quality standard recommendations for local authorities on the health and care of older people in care homes, as well as highlighting other sources of information.

The recommendations and quality statements signposted in the briefing include:

  • ensure older people in care homes retain their independence and identity
  • set clear policies and plans for older people in care homes
  • provide equal access to services
  • ensure residents are safe
  • prevent infections among residents.

Other briefings published in the last 12 months include those on health visiting, HIV testing, services to address domestic violence and abuse, as well as an update to our very first briefing on tobacco control.

View all of NICE’s local government briefings