I have written before about my concerns that the £22.7 million spent by Hammersmith and Fulham Council on public health fails to achieve value for money. When I asked for a budget breakdown it included the following item – costing £777,000 a year:
“Delivery of personal health plans – individual goal oriented planning and support for 1,560 people a year and 1,800 community health checks delivered each year; the service helps people to lose weight, become more active, reduce alcohol use, stop smoking and eat more healthily, and is focused on areas of deprivation.”
That’s pretty expensive. Just under £500 a head. But to get an idea of whether it was good value for money I asked a further query:
“How many of the 1,560 people that we have funded personal health plans have drunk less, lost weight or given up smoking as a result?”
15 people reported reduced alcohol consumption.
1 person gave up smoking completely.
6 people reported reduced weight.
Of course there will be other health targets. But these are pretty obvious ones and the figures are derisory. It works out at £37,000 a time for each of those 21 achievements. Furthermore how many of those outcomes would have happened anyway regardless of signing up to the personal health plan?
This is the context in which the Council claims there is no money available from the Public Health budget to promote shingles vaccine. Or restore drinking fountains. Or provide dust suppressant spray on the roads to reduce air pollution. Or provide hypnosis for pregnant women to give up smoking or residential rehab for drug addicts. Or provide blood pressure tests for middle aged men. Or peer support for mental illness.
Or really just about anything at all that might be of greater real, practical value than the £777,000 for the Personal Health Plans. It would be quite a challenge to think up a less effective way of spending the money.