This is my eighth annual report on the health of the population of Devon, and I have chosen health inequality as the focus of this year’s report. The Health and Social Care Act 2012 set out new arrangements for public health which mean that local authorities are now the host organisation for local public health functions rather than the NHS. Public Health England provides a ring-fenced grant to the 152 upper-tier and unitary local authorities in England to commission a range of public health services. It is a statutory duty of the local authority to publish their Director of Public Health’s independent assessment of the health of the local population. The independence of the report is important – it enables the Director of Public Health to provide a factual and apolitical account of the state of the health of the people of Devon, and creates a useful historic record, to help track changes over time.
The Health and Social Care Act also created a new legal responsibility for local authorities, NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups and NHS England – to reduce inequalities in health. My first Annual Public Health Report in 2008 considered health inequality in Devon, and so it is timely to review the progress made since then.
Dr Virginia Pearson, Director of Public Health