Successful efforts in Wigan Borough to improve health and reduce the number of people smoking have been praised by the head of the NHS at a Parliamentary committee.
Simon Stevens, the chief executive of the NHS, appeared in front of MPs at the House of Commons’ Health Committee on Tuesday 7 June as they examined the delivery of public health services across the UK.
He praised the “value” Wigan Council was getting out of commissioned services such as smoking cessation with the numbers of people who are smoking dropping significantly in the borough and more people living longer.
Wigan Council is one of 37 organisations on the Greater Manchester Strategic Partnership Board, tasked with taking charge of the £6billion health and social care budget that has been transferred to support decisions based on the best interests of the region’s 2.8 million residents.
Simon Stevens, who visited Wigan in March to meet the local organisations delivering health devolution, was questioned by Helen Whately MP on the impact of reduced funding for services such as drug and alcohol services, sexual health and smoking cessation.
He was asked if he was concerned about the impact on other parts of the NHS with many local authorities cutting back on these services
Simon Stevens said: “To the extent that they have an impact on downstream demand then yes.
“That said when we were last discussing this I referenced the testimony of Lord Peter Smith in Wigan.
“He went on the record saying that as a result of local authorities now having the ability to commission smoking cessation and prevention services this was now driving much more value out of the money being spent.”
Wigan has seen a significant drop in the number of people smoking in recent years with smoking prevalence falling from 25.5 per cent in 2010 to 20.6 per cent in 2014.
Fewer people in Wigan Borough are also being admitted to hospital due to alcohol related conditions.
Alcohol specific admissions in under 18s have fallen by around half in the last five years from 223 between 2007/08 to 2009/10 to 115 from 2012/13 to 20014/15.
Donna Hall, chief executive of Wigan Council, said: “At Wigan we are leading the way in delivering the devolution of health and social care.
“We are very pleased Simon Stevens has referred to our work at such an important committee.
“By working together with our health partners we are reforming public services by putting residents at the heart of the community and looking really closely at what is right for our residents and not what has been traditionally done.
“We will continue to work hard to improve health and social care services for the people in Wigan Borough and wider Greater Manchester.”