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Duncan Selbie's Friday message – 3 Feb 2017

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Dear everyone

Last Friday the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership published an ambitious plan for public health that targets all stages of life, puts strong focus on prevention and clearly links better health and wellbeing with work prospects and the economy.

The plan, supported by PHE, identifies some of the biggest issues in the region, where almost a fifth of adults smoke, around two thirds of adults are overweight or obese and last year, one in three children did not achieve a good level of development by the end of reception. It also sets out a series of interventions and recommendations for the system as a whole to transform the health of the 2.8 million people who live in the region, and we will continue to lend our full support as the programme moves forward.

Last week we held a joint roundtable with the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy to look at how we can develop a return on investment tool for spend on prevention that draws on the evidence base, provides a clear appraisal model for investing in upstream prevention and endorses a step change in annual financial reporting of preventative spend. We heard great contributions from public health and finance practitioners, academia, think tanks and representative bodies and I look forward to the conclusion of this work in the weeks ahead.

Thursday saw the return of our ActFAST campaign, which reminds people of the key symptoms of stroke and the importance of calling 999 immediately if you notice any single one of the symptoms in yourself or someone else. Stroke is one of the leading causes of death in England, killing more than 40,000 people a year, while two thirds of survivors are left with a disability. The faster someone experiencing a stroke gets emergency treatment, the more chance they have of surviving and avoiding life-changing harm.

On Wednesday last the National Falls Prevention Coordination Group, coordinated by PHE, published a consensus statement that outlines ways to support effective and integrated commissioning of interventions to help prevent falls and fractures. For older people, the risk of falling is particularly high and the consequences often severe, including distress, pain, injury, loss of confidence, loss of independence and early death. The consensus statement suggests a number of approaches to reduce this burden and is well worth a read.

A programme of ‘getting to know you’ events is being planned for our staff to see the potential of our move by 2024 to our new scientific campus in Harlow, Essex. Full details will be published very shortly. And last week, our Senior Advisor to the National Infection Service Christine McCartney and her team hosted a party of members and officers from Harlow Council for a guided tour of our campus at Porton.

This gave them an insight into the breadth of our work, from high containment science to protect the public from diseases like Ebola, to testing for bacteria that may be found in water supplies in our hospitals. The visit allowed them to get a good sense of who we are and what we will be bringing as the national public health agency.

PHE operates regional laboratories fully integrated with the NHS as part of our national infection service network of regional and national services. One of these is in Manchester, and on Wednesday I had the pleasure of spending the morning at the main site on the Royal Infirmary campus, speaking and listening to staff and to see the new laboratory facility that we are building there. I conveyed my thanks for their work and for their dedication through the transition of recent years and of course whilst the building work is underway.

And finally, I would like to congratulate Professor Kevin Fenton, our Director of Health and Wellbeing, who will be embarking on a three-year secondment to Southwark Council starting in April, and to warmly thank him for his tireless efforts to improve the health and wellbeing of people in England over the past four years at PHE. Southwark are equally delighted as they see this as a big step forward for them in bringing health and wellbeing into all that the council does.

With best wishes,

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

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