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Duncan Selbie's Friday message – 12 April

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Dear everyone

I am writing on a Wednesday because the period of pre-election sensitivity comes into effect tomorrow and all organisations in receipt of public funds need to take great care during this time. And so my next Friday message will be on 5 May.

PHE has achieved much over our past four years, and as we move into the second year of our Strategic Plan, we do so from a position of strength and confidence. Today we published our annual business plan for 2017/18, which replicates the high level objectives set out in the remit letter that we have received from Ministers.

This plan sets out where we will focus our efforts over the next year, from building the economic case for prevention, working to create a fairer society by addressing the health gap between the richest and the poorest and continuing to invest in and promote our world class science in the UK and around the world.

As always, delivering on our objectives depends on strong partnerships with a wide range of stakeholders – from national Government and the private sector to local government, charitable organisations and the NHS. That is why our plan speaks to the results of our recent stakeholder survey, carried out by Ipsos MORI, which shows that our many stakeholders feel PHE is maturing as an organisation and making an impact through the evidence we provide, the influence we have with Government and the support we provide to the NHS and local authorities.

We were encouraged to see that 57% of stakeholders would now speak positively of PHE – the third highest score of the public sector bodies surveyed by MORI over the past decade. They have also told us where we can do more, and we have listened. In order to meet the objectives set out in our business plan for 2017/18 we will be engaging further with stakeholders beyond the traditional realms of health care, tailoring our support to where we can have the greatest impact and pushing for even greater influence where it matters most.

I am pleased to say that Sir Derek Myers has been appointed by Ministers as Interim Chair of our Advisory Board until a permanent appointment is made.  Sir Derek combines a deep understanding and appreciation of PHE and its work, having been a non-executive since 2013, with his wealth of knowledge and experience as a former local authority Chief Executive in London and more recently as the Government-appointed Lead Commissioner in Rotherham.

Tackling the root causes of health and social problems early on in life is an increasingly prominent force in public health, as it is across education, policing and many other policy areas. PHE has been working closely with the Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) – a member of the evidence-focused What Works network – to understand what works to improve children and young people’s life chances and strengthen their resilience and capabilities as early as possible. On 11 May, EIF will hold its annual conference in London, providing an opportunity to get policymakers, local leaders and frontline practitioners together to discuss the challenges and opportunities of this rapidly developing agenda, from making a difference for vulnerable children, to integrating services and the role of children’s social and emotional skills in supporting social mobility.

With best wishes,

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

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