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Health Secretary outlines his vision for Public Health

In his first speech on public health, health secretary Andrew Lansley said that he wanted ‘to create a framework which empowers people to make the changes that will really make a difference to the nation’s lives.’

Secretary of State Andrew Lansley MP

Speaking at the Faculty of Public Health’s annual conference, Lansley outlined his vision for a new public health service in broad terms, but the real detail of his plans will be contained in a public health White Paper, to be published later this year.

The minister said he planned to create a healthy nation by focusing on a new approach that centres on behaviour change: 'My vision is for a new Public Health Service which rebalances our approach to health, and draws together a national strategy and leadership, alongside local leadership and delivery and, above-all, a new sense of community and social responsibility.’

He mentioned a number of specific measures to achieve this including:

  • A new responsibility deal between Government and business built on shared social responsibility and not state regulation;
  • A new ring-fenced public health budget;
  • A new ‘Health Premium’ to target public health resources towards the areas with the poorest health;
  • Clear outcomes and measures to judge progress alongside NHS and social care outcomes;
  • An enhanced role for Public Health Directors so they have the resources and authority to improve the health of their communities; and
  • A new Cabinet Sub-Committee on Public Health, chaired by the Health Secretary, to tackle the drivers of demand on the NHS.

Áine Duggan from the MHF said: 'Many of these measures have the potential to be developed into positive actions. However, state regulation should not be disregarded as a powerful means of tackling serious public health issues.  We know that state regulation can play an important part in improving Public Health. The smoking ban is a good example of this.'

Local strategies

Lansley has stressed his desire for local strategies to tackle public health issues. He has spoken about working with communities and schools, and putting people, rather than systems at the centre of any strategy. He has also emphasised the need to use local voluntary and charitable organisations more.

Lansley has also indicated that he is keen to focus on outcomes rather than processes. It remains to be seen how these will be measured and how outcomes will differ from previous targets. He has said that the government will be clear on what they want to measure and achieve. These will include increases in life expectancy, decreases in infant mortality and health inequalities.

Áine Duggan said: 'An enhanced role for the voluntary sector is to be welcomed, but further details are needed on this point. It is heartening to see this emphasis on health inequalities and we hope that this will include an emphasis on gender as a social determinant of health.'

  • Further detail on all of these proposals will come in a Public Health White Paper, to be published later this year.

Page created on July 11th, 2010

Page updated on July 14th, 2010