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Andrew Lansley sets out strategy to improve public health and reduce health inequalities

Tim Montgomerie

Screen shot 2010-11-30 at 15.40.02Highlights of Mr Lansley's statement are pasted below:

Labour's legacy: "Britain currently has amongst the highest rates of obesity and sexually transmitted infections in Europe. Smoking still claims 80,000 lives a year. Alcohol related admission to hospital are unacceptably high. And in recent years, inequalities in health have widened, rather than narrowed."

Healthier living isn't largely about healthcare... "About a third of all cases of circulatory disease, half of all cases of vascular dementia and many cancers could be avoided by reducing smoking, improving diet and increasing physical activity. We need to do better, and we won’t make progress if public health continues to be seen just in terms of NHS provision and of state interventions. Two-thirds of our potential impact on life expectancy depends on issues outside health care."

...it's about family, welfare and transport: "For instance, because we know a mother’s health is key to a child’s health and development, we are investing in Sure Start Children’s Centres and 4,200 more health visitors to give families the support they need. Because we know those who are unemployed for long periods are more likely to be admitted to hospital and more likely to die prematurely, we’re transforming the welfare system, ending the benefits trap, and making sure that work always pays through a single Universal credit. And because we know more people would cycle to work or school more often if there were safer routes for them to use, The Government are investing £560 million in sustainable transport."

Unhealthy lifestyles are costly to the taxpayer: "Alcohol abuse costs us an estimated £2.7 billion and obesity costs an extra £4.2 billion each year to the NHS alone."

Government should help people to healthier lifestyles, not order them to adopt them: "It’s time for politicians to stop telling people to make healthy choices, and time to start actually helping them to do it. Rather than nannying people, we will nudge them by working with industry to make healthy lifestyles easier. Rather than lecturing people about their habits, we will give them the support they need to make their own choices."

Local councils will take the lead on public health: "Under this White Paper, the lead responsibility for improving health will pass to local government for the first time in 40 years. We intend to give local authorities new powers to plan, co-ordinate and deliver local strategies with the NHS and other partners and to embed the foundations of good health in ways that fit local circumstances."

Public health budgets will now be protected: "Public health budgets were constantly raided by other parts of the NHS, we will prioritise public health spending through a new ring-fenced budget."


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