Birmingham & Black Country

Birmingham homelessness and childhood obesity priorities

Dr Adrian Phillips
Image caption Responsibility for public health has been given to local authorities under NHS changes

Tackling homelessness and childhood obesity are priorities for Birmingham, according to the new director of public health for the city.

Dr Adrian Phillips said the city had one of the highest rates homelessness in England and Wales, making it a "crucial public health issue".

He added 40% of children aged 10 in the city were either overweight or clinically obese .

Dr Phillips is taking charge of a £78m public health budget.

Birmingham had 3,918 people accepted as homeless in 2011/12, compared with 3,957 the previous year, according to the city council.

'Real issue'

Dr Phillips said he hoped his department could use its budget to have "a real impact on looking at those vulnerable people".

"Housing was one of the fundamental parts of the Public Health Act in 1848, and here we are 150 years on still talking about housing," he added.

He said childhood obesity is "a real issue that I need to be putting my team's effort into".

If that meant using resources, financial and non-financial, "then I'll have to do that", he said.

Responsibility for public health has been moved back into local authority control as part of the government's reforms of the NHS.

Control of public health was moved from councils to the NHS in 1974.

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