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Last Updated: Friday, 19 November, 2004, 12:54 GMT
88 public health pilots unveiled
Deprived areas have been targeted for action
Scores of deprived areas have been identified for public health pilot schemes as part of the government's bid to tackle high levels of poor health.

Some 88 primary care trusts, covering a quarter of England, have been given the go-ahead for initiatives such as stop smoking services and health trainers.

The White Paper was launched on Tuesday to tackle smoking, obesity, drinking and mental and sexual health.

Ministers said more 1bn would be invested in public health by 2007.

We know that there are significant differences in the health of people which depend on the area in which they live
Health Secretary John Reid

The PCTs, known as the Spearhead Group, were identified using information on deprivation, deaths from cancer and heart disease and life expectancy.

They cover large areas such as Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and inner London.

Health Secretary John Reid said: "The PCTs will be in the first to get funding for health trainers, improved smoking cessation services and school meals.

"We know that there are significant differences in the health of people which depend on the area in which they live.

"Individuals alone struggle to change their local environment so the action of local authorities, PCTs and other partners in these most disadvantaged areas is vital.


"As well as tackling particular health issues like smoking, obesity, poor housing, accidents and mental health, it means changing how services are delivered to reduce barriers and improve health choices."

It has not been decided what pilots the 88 PCTs will trial but the schemes will include ones to make school meals healthier, help people to stop smoking and encourage more participation in exercise.

Jo Webber, policy manager at the NHS Confederation, which represents PCTs, said: "We welcome this targeted investment to improve public health in the most deprived areas.

"The pilots will build on the innovative work already taking place in many Primary Care Trusts.

"However, it is important to remember that pockets of deprivation exist even in the most affluent areas.


"Tackling health inequalities is a challenge for all PCTs, whatever community they serve."

Steve Shaffelburg, policy manager at the British Heart Foundation, said he "applauded" the government's move.

"These efforts to reduce lifestyle inequalities by providing NHS health trainers and smoking cessation courses in poor neighbourhoods will complement efforts by the government to tackle the bigger underlying conditions that cause these inequalities."

Paul Burstow, the Liberal Democrat health spokesman, accused ministers of focusing on "lifestyles and ignoring the wider issues that cause the massive health gaps in this country".

"In these deprived areas, the government must to much more to tackle poverty, housing, transport and the environment."

Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said the schemes were unlikely to deliver results because they were "untested and bound up in bureaucracy".

"Health inequalities need to be tackled but all we get from Tony Blair's government is gimmicks and talk."

Telegraph Nine out of 10 pubs face smoking ban - 6 hrs ago
Guardian Unlimited Reid offers blueprint for fitness - 7 hrs ago
Irish TimesBritain sets out timetable for ban on smoking - 7 hrs ago
IHT Britain cracks down on public smoking - 8 hrs ago
ABCNEWS.com Britain Plans Sweeping Smoking Ban - 13 hrs ago
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