Low impact of health initiatives

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PARTNERSHIP working on health issues has little impact on obesity and alcohol problems, researchers claimed today.

Although popular as a way of tackling cross-cutting health issues, the Durham University study claims they can merely be “expensive talking shops”.

The findings suggest the constant political and organisational changes are damaging partnership working, and the Coalition Government’s proposals for changes in the NHS and public health pose significant risks, particularly the abolition of Primary Care Trusts.

The research shows partnerships were often seen by the people working within them as problematic, bureaucratic and over-engineered.

Professor David Hunter, of Durham University’s Centre for Public Policy and Health, said: “A big barrier is the constant political churn which leads to staff turnover or people changing jobs, and in turn to the loss of trusting relationships which is vital for partnerships to work.

“The findings show that partnerships tend to be very expensive talking shops with people from different organisations, like the NHS and local authorities, talking to each other without fully understanding each other’s cultures, language or objectives.

“This leads to bureaucracy, inefficiencies and no clear focus on outcomes.”