‘Healthy Lives, Healthy People,’ the White Paper on public health has been published and is available on the Department of Health website.
The news release sets out the Secretary of State’s ‘ladder of intervention’ – from the rather refreshingly titled ‘do nothing’ up to ‘eliminate choice altogether’ – which sound like the different states of readiness one might find in one of the armed services.
Public health will have a ring-fenced budget and the money will be straddled across local authorities (who will be the employers of Directors of Public Health) and a new national organisation ‘Public Health England.’
Public Health England will set outcome measures for public health and a new health premium will be awarded in areas according to progress made. Public Health England will also be the repository of best practice and evidence and negotiate the new responsibility deal on public health between different partners including charities and industry.
You get the picture, if anything this is more about how we organise ourselves to deliver better public health than the interventions themselves.
Last night I said my mind would necessarily be focused on what the document says about public health research. If the NHS white paper is anything to go by, my sense after a quick skim is that the intention is to see research embedded in how the new organisations do things rather than separate from or parallel too.
But, in my opinion, the white paper also expresses a clear intent to beef-up delivery in public health research and strengthen the evidence-base for public health actions with the setting up of a new NIHR School for Public Health Research. A new Policy Research Unit on Behaviour and Health will be established within the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and Public Health England will be expected to properly resource research into interventions happening outside the NHS. Finally, it says that NIHR, Public Health England and others will work together to identify research priorities.
All this seems a positive change to the landscape. I’m off to see which ‘level of intrusion’ I need to implement with my team.