Joint working, reality or rhetoric?

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The UK Government has put the elimination of health inequalities and social exclusion at the heart of its agenda. Partnership working is clearly needed to tackle these issues and has been identified as the way forward in a series of policy initiatives. This paper explores whether, despite the rhetoric, joint working happens in reality. Using the example of the Social Exclusion Unit, a 'cross-cutting' unit developed to work across organizational boundaries, it suggests that centrally joint working is not working effectively. As a result, public health programmes are not being well co-ordinated with wider government initiatives and public health appears to be excluded from much of the work around social exclusion. Two potential reasons are identified: (1) poor co-ordination between the Department of Health and the Cabinet Office; (2) a lack of understanding in the wider community of public health and the role it can play in tackling inequalities and social exclusion. A House of Commons Health Committee is currently examining co-ordination between central government, local government and health authorities in delivering public health. Meanwhile, the public health community must attempt to clarify and, if necessary, market its role and strengths in this sphere. Unless directives from central government are better co-ordinated, local efforts to work in partnership could be undermined.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-6
Number of pages2
JournalJournal of Public Health Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2001


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