Department of Health and Social Care
The Department of Health and Social Care on Victoria Street in London.

The UK Government has set up a new Office for Health Promotion to lead national efforts in improving and levelling up the health of the nation by tackling obesity, improving mental health and promoting physical activity.

The Office will recruit an expert lead who will report jointly into the Health Secretary and the Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty. The Office’s remit will be to systematically tackle the top preventable risk factors causing death and ill health in the UK, by designing, implementing and tracking delivery policy across government.

It will bring together a range of skills to lead a new era of public health polices, leveraging modern digital tools, data and actuarial science and delivery experts.

The Office for Health Promotion will sit within the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), and will lead work across government to promote good health and prevent illness which shortens lives and costs the NHS billions every year, building on the work of Public Health England.

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It will enable more joined-up, sustained action between national and local government, the NHS and cross-government, where much of the wider determinants of health sit.

As a large proportion of people’s health outcomes are related to wider preventable risk factors, such as diet, smoking, exercise, the new Office will help inform a new cross-government agenda which will look to track these wider determinants of health and implement policies in other departments where appropriate.

The Office will address and tackle important public health issues, including obesity and nutrition, mental health across all ages, physical activity, sexual health, alcohol and tobacco, amongst other areas.

It will also recruit expert leadership, ensuring it is informed by high-quality data and evidence to support decision-making and delivery to improve health across the nation.

Responding to the announcement, Jo Bibby, Director of Health at the Health Foundation, said that the announcement signals the government’s intent to take a more joined up approach to tackling some of the major health issues facing the country.

“We particularly welcome the creation of a cross government ministerial board to coordinate action across departments on the wider determinants of health and ‘level up’ inequalities,” she said.

“The test for the government will now be in the delivery of these proposals and whether it has grasped the full enormity and scale of the challenges ahead. The recognition of the critical role of Directors of Public Health is welcome but there is no indication that the historic cuts to local budgets will be restored.

“Nor did the recent budget make a long-term commitment to public health funding despite this year’s public health grant allocations representing a 24 per cent cut in real terms per capita – equivalent to £1 billion – compared to 2015/16.

“Today’s plans also fall short of creating the independent body which is urgently needed for parliament to scrutinise the government’s actions and ensure that these lead to tangible improvements in the nation’s health.

“The pandemic makes it all more urgent that we prioritise keeping people healthy. The government faces a crucial window of opportunity in which to create a public health system equipped to take on the major health issues facing the country including rising obesity, a mental health crisis and a growing gap between the health of the richest and poorest.“

A strong public health system isn’t a luxury – beyond the obvious benefit to the individual, good health brings with it huge economic and social benefits that are vital to the country’s prosperity.

“The government has pledged to increase healthy life expectancy and narrow the gap between the richest and poorest, but it has a mountain to climb to reverse the current trends. On the basis of what we’ve heard today, we are still to get out of the foothills.”

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https://i1.wp.com/thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/s960_Default_image_39_Victoria_street_department_of_health.jpg?fit=900%2C600&ssl=1https://i1.wp.com/thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/s960_Default_image_39_Victoria_street_department_of_health.jpg?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1Liane McIvorGovernment & Local AuthoritiesNewsroomNHSSector NewsGovernment,inequalities,mental health,Office for Health PromotionThe UK Government has set up a new Office for Health Promotion to lead national efforts in improving and levelling up the health of the nation by tackling obesity, improving mental health and promoting physical activity. The Office will recruit an expert lead who will report jointly into the Health...News, views & products for mobility, access and independent living professionals