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Duncan Selbie's Friday message – 27 Jan 2017

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Dear everyone,

Economic development that leads to more jobs for people in our communities is a big contributor to closing the health gap. Nowhere is the link between health and wealth more important than in relation to work and that is why the Government’s proposal for a modern industrial strategy, published on Sunday, is so relevant to improving the public's health.

Jobs are important for our health; and our health is important for staying in work for longer. Health is about more than healthcare – what also matters is having a job, a home and a friend.

This was emphasised again yesterday at the launch of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health’s State of Child Health 2017 report, which speaks exactly to this need to tackle variation in outcomes for health and wellbeing in children and young people. At the heart of this is tackling deprivation, for which a strong economy throughout England is key, recognising that income affects outcomes throughout life.

From developing skills to upgrading infrastructure and supporting businesses to start and grow, the industrial strategy sets out to improve living standards by increasing productivity and driving economic growth across the whole country. The public’s health is at the heart of inclusive growth, and we will work with our system partners and the Government to finalise the strategy and support its implementation.

On Thursday we published our comprehensive review of the evidence on the drug misuse treatment system in England, which shows the system is performing well in comparison with other countries and international research, but with some key areas for improvement.

Effective integrated services are important to success, as local areas increasingly have to meet the complex needs of a small but growing number of older, long-term heroin users, often in poor health, with other problems such as housing, poor social-networks and unemployment, which are vital to successful recovery.

Services also need to be flexible in order to deal with emerging issues such as new psychoactive substances or the problematic use of medication. With every £1 spent on treatment yielding a £2.50 saving on the social costs of drug misuse, it makes sense for local authorities to continue to invest in helping people get their lives back on track.

The latest in our series of co-badged guidance with NICE was published on Wednesday to advise the NHS and local authorities on changing risk-related behaviours to help tackle antimicrobial resistance. Good hand, respiratory and food hygiene and appropriate antimicrobial use are vital to stop the spread of infections and reduce resistance.  Educational resources such as e-Bug and Southampton University's Germ Defence promote better hygiene and we also encourage both the public and professionals to sign up as Antibiotic Guardians.

On Tuesday I hosted a teleconference to introduce the latest edition of Health Matters, which this month focuses on combating high blood pressure – the third most important factor affecting early death after smoking and diet and known as the silent killer, increasing the risk of stroke, coronary artery disease and heart failure. For every 10 people diagnosed with high blood pressure, 7 people remain undiagnosed and untreated, equating to more than 5.5 million people in England.

Acting on this presents an opportunity to save thousands of lives and reduce demand on the NHS, and this edition brings together the rationale for better prevention, detection and management of high blood pressure across the NHS and local authorities. Do share the infographics, slide set, case studies, video and blogs with colleagues.

Today marks the retirement of Dr Brian McCloskey, our director of global health security, who has made a phenomenal contribution throughout his professional life in protecting the public’s health both at home and internationally. More recently he has led on our response to Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV), contributed his expertise during the Rio Olympics and established the UK’s rapid support capability following the learnings from Ebola in West Africa. Brian has been a superlative public servant and public health professional and has been concerned for bringing on the next generation throughout his professional life. We will miss him hugely.

And finally, at PHE we want to provide a workplace that values difference, and where people feel they can be who they are when they come to work. Our new PHE Muslim Network, launched yesterday, aims to promote greater understanding between colleagues, raise awareness of Muslim culture and support our commitment to be an inclusive and diverse workplace. This is our fifth staff-led diversity network, alongside the black and minority ethnic; disability; lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender and gender balance networks. Congratulations to all those involved in making this happen.

With best wishes,

Friday messages from 2012-2016 are available on GOV.UK

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1 comment

  1. Comment by Anne Castle posted on

    There is a huge gap which needs filling, from when prisoners are released, to when they get their next point of contact with help and guidance on how to survive in society, without reverting back to their old ways, and before long they are back to square one. This is coming from an ex addict, who wants to make a difference to those still struggling!!