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Duncan Selbie's Friday message - 6 October 2017

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Dear everyone

For the first time the UK has seen a decline in new HIV diagnoses. This week we reported that in 2016, 5,164 people were newly diagnosed with HIV in the UK, an 18% decline on the previous year, most apparent in gay and bisexual men. Since effective treatment became available 20 years ago, more recent advances in prevention through pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and higher rates of testing mean this strikingly positive news is testament to the tirelessly hard work across the statutory and voluntary sectors. You can see geographical breakdowns in our tables.

Those working in sexual health services should be proud of this progress, but there is inevitably more to be done. Diagnosis at late stage of HIV infection for example could be improved, as catching the virus early is crucial to a good outcome and is much more cost effective. But we have seen great progress and we will continue to make HIV testing and re-testing of higher risk people a priority as we continue work towards the United Nations 90-90-90 treatment target, which aims for 90% of people to be aware of their HIV status, 90% with HIV to be on treatment, and of those 90% to have a suppressed viral load.

On Wednesday we launched the October edition of Health Matters, our professional resource, on preventing ill health from alcohol and tobacco use. The focus is on the Preventing Ill Health from Risky Behaviour Commissioning for Quality and Innovation Framework, which was introduced at the start of the year for mental health services and is now being extended to acute hospitals. Acting on this will reduce the number of hospital admissions, wound infection and recovery time, the longer term risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer and improve chronic disease management. Health Matters provides a comprehensive overview with resources, blogs and downloadable infographics. Please do have a look.

The detrimental effects that childhood obesity has on our children, and on demand for NHS services is common knowledge and tackling the problem requires multi-level action across all sectors.  There is a prominent role for local authorities and NHS clinical commissioning groups to work together to implement weight management services, and we have published a new guide offering advice on delivering and commissioning Tier 2 management services for children and their families. We have co-produced this guide, which includes supporting resources, a step-by-step guide for health professionals on talking to children and parents about weight and a new data capturing tool, all of which can be found here.

On Monday, I visited our National Disease Registration team in Cambridge, one of eight regional teams that collect data on cancer, rare diseases, and congenital anomalies and for the national drug and treatment monitoring service.  The work these teams do is world-leading and underpins many of the data needs of public health and the wider healthcare system.  The whole service is driven by those who work behind the scenes, such as registration officers with a passion for high quality data collection, technology experts who build powerful and innovative data systems and a management team committed to excellence. These professionals make a huge contribution to public health and are a jewel in PHE’s crown.

And finally, I was interviewed for the latest edition of the Municipal Journal on the unique role local government have to convene and influence, in this instance in improving mental wellbeing. Local government lead the public sector in managing to deliver the same or more for less. But there are of course always opportunities to spend what is being spent now more wisely and continually striving to do so is what local government is all about. You can read it here.

With best wishes,

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