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Local communities at the heart of public health system

15th July 2011

A public health system that puts people’s health and wellbeing at its core has moved a step closer as Health Secretary Andrew Lansley outlined the guiding principles of the new system.

Healthy Lives, Healthy People: Update and Way Forward sets out the Government’s vision for a public health system that places local communities at its heart. It will have a clear focus on prevention and reducing inequalities and will work across Government to address the wider social determinants of health.

Today’s publication provides further detail to enable local authorities to further develop public health plans in their area.  It follows a three month consultation on the Government’s plans for a reformed public health system.

The publication sets out progress in developing the new public health system, including:

  • Clarifying the new leadership role for local authorities and their directors of public health, across health improvement, health protection and population health advice to the NHS;
  • Proposals for commissioning public health services;
  • Establishing a new integrated public health service, Public Health England, to drive improvements in health and protect against health threats;
  • Public Health England will be an executive agency of the Department of Health, to provide greater operational independence within a structure that is clearly accountable to the Health Secretary; and
  • Clear principles for emergency preparedness, resilience and response.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said:

“A new public health system with strong local and national leadership is essential to help save more lives, improve people’s health and wellbeing and to reduce health inequalities that exist across the country.

“Based on an understanding of the wider determinants of health, the new system will focus on the outcomes we want to achieve, with local authorities able to tailor services to best meet the needs of their communities.

“We need to make sure people have the information, tools and support they need to make to make the right choices for them at key events in their lives.

“The White Paper generated real enthusiasm for a new approach to public health, which we will now develop, with local authorities leading local health and wellbeing strategies.”

Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, said:

“A reformed public health system is vital if we are to meet the public health challenges of the twenty-first century.

“At a time when two out of three adults are overweight or obese, rates of sexual transmitted infections continue to rise, and inequalities in health remain widespread it is essential that this becomes a core part of business across Government, with the resources to ensure the focus is maintained.

“Public health is everyone’s business, including the NHS, which will continue to play a critical role in securing good population health.”

Public Health England and other new national bodies will now take up their full responsibilities by April 2013. It will be an executive agency of the Department of Health and will integrate the three pillars of public health: health protection, health improvement and health services.

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