A new office for health promotion will take over from Public Health England in the fall

The move follows last week’s announcement that a new UK health security agency would be created from April, which will focus on responding to external health threats, including infectious diseases.

The UK Health Security Agency will bring together the Joint Biosecurity Center, the NHS Test and Trace and parts of Public Health England, such as science labs and data monitoring teams, which have responded to the pandemic.

Public Health England’s role in improving health and promoting health will be assumed by the new Office for Health Promotion from the end of this year. The government said the new organization “will lead national efforts to improve and level the health of the nation by tackling obesity, improving mental health and promoting physical activity.” He will also be responsible for other public health issues, including sexual health.

Intergovernmental approach

Unlike Public Health England, which is an independent body, the new organization will sit within DHSC. The government said this would allow “more concerted and sustained action between national and local government, the NHS and government as a whole, where many of the broader determinants of health lie.”

He added that the Office of Health Promotion would help establish an “intergovernmental agenda” and work on the implementation of the policy, while a new intergovernmental ministerial council on prevention will also be set up to move forward. this work.

The head of the new organization, who has yet to be named, will report jointly to Health Secretary Matt Hancock and England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty.

The BMA said the intergovernmental approach “may signal the kind of joint work needed to tackle” the drivers of health inequalities.

However, Dr Richard Jarvis, co-chair of the BMA’s public health medicine committee, said there were “still serious concerns about the centralization of public health within the health ministry”.

“If we are to solve serious public health problems such as obesity and mental health and truly ‘level’ the health of the nation, we must see a properly funded and coordinated public health system that crucially has organizational independence to speak up when needed to improve and protect the health of the population, ”said Dr Jarvis.

Health promotion

Professor Whitty said the Office of Health Promotion would be essential in helping to develop evidence-based policies that address the non-direct harm people have suffered from COVID-19.

He said: “COVID’s non-direct damage to public health will not be insignificant. We need an evidence-based and collaborative approach to promoting health and supporting this recovery.

“The Office for Health Promotion will work with both national and local government as well as the NHS, universities, the third sector, scientists, researchers and industry to develop evidence-based policies . “

Mr Hancock said: “Good physical and mental health is central to our happiness and well-being. Yet much of what keeps us healthy happens outside of hospitals and health services. .

“By creating the Office of Health Promotion, we will put health promotion at the heart of government, working with the chief medical office, so that we can improve the health of our nation, working across governments.” national and local.

‘Prevention is better than cure. By putting in place innovative prevention measures, we can help everyone live longer, healthier lives while getting back to normal and relieving the pressures of our NHS.

The decision to cut Public Health England was first announced in August last year when the government announced the creation of the new National Institute for Health Protection. This organization is now on the verge of becoming the UK Health Security Agency, which will be headed by the current Deputy Managing Director of England, Dr Jenny Harries.

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