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Duncan Selbie's Friday message - 27 October 2017

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Dear everyone

On Monday and Tuesday, the International Association of National Public Health Institutes (IANPHI) held its annual conference in Rome. IANPHI has over 100 national public health institutes and agencies in membership and this summer they undertook a peer review of PHE, something we were keen to experience as we are nearly five years of age and want to be ready for the next ten. Their report was formally received at the conference and will be shared with our Advisory Board and Ministers and then published. More on this to follow. The two days were full of professional learning and sharing across the international community and PHE presented on the experience of responding to major incidents affecting public safety, and on air quality and the evidence on physical activity.

This week PHE’s English Surveillance Programme for Antimicrobial Utilisation and Resistance published its fourth annual report, explaining that between 2012 and 2016, antibiotic prescribing reduced by 5%, with a notable reduction in general practice of 13%. This shows that we are moving in the right direction but there are still some concerning trends. You cannot have missed this week’s public facing media message about the importance of only taking an antibiotic when absolutely necessary and we hope, with the work happening across the NHS and wider health sector, to see these reductions continue.

Our annual TB report was published on Tuesday, showing that cases of tuberculosis in England are continuing to decline. Since the peak in 2011 we have seen the number of TB cases reduce by 32%, however this year the decline has slowed to 1% from over 10% in 2015. The reasons for this will be explored over the coming months, but it will be important to redouble our efforts to deliver the 10 key areas for action in the Collaborative TB Strategy for England, 2015-2020. You can read more here.

Yesterday new cancer data, the first of its kind in the world, was published which links stage of cancer diagnosis and treatment for individual patients. PHE and Cancer Research UK worked together to examine data from about half a million patients with 22 different cancer types in England between 2013-14 and learnt that 70% of cancers diagnosed at the earliest stage were removed by surgery. This data is the most comprehensive of its kind about treatment and survival patterns and reinforces the importance of early diagnosis and screening. More on this can be found here.

Earlier this year PHE contributed to the All Party Parliamentary Group for Arts, health and Wellbeing and we recently met with Evan Dawson from Live Music Now (LMN), an organisation established using insights into how music improves the lives of those struggling with their health. LMN's work targets key vulnerable populations such as older people living with dementia and children with special educational needs and disabilities. Through use of the  Arts for Health and Wellbeing evaluation framework they are working to develop their evidence base and their impact. You can learn more by visiting their website.

The disability charity Scope has launched a new campaign called Work With Me. Scope research shows that more than a third of disabled people do not think they will be hired. This is just not right, people with a disability have so much to give, and it is often the people with the least who give the most. PHE supports the aims of this campaign and our disability leads have been hard at work to ensure our recently relaunched disability network makes a real difference. It also coincides with the new Civil Service Diversity and Inclusion Strategy, which amongst other things sets a target on the number of disabled staff entering senior ranks of the Civil Service by April 2018, and will hold every department and agency of Government accountable for creating a more diverse Whitehall.

Yesterday NHS Providers, the representative body of hospitals and mental health services, published a report called Public Health: Everyone’s Business, which includes 12 different viewpoints, all concerned with promoting prevention and early intervention, and it is great to see this getting centre stage.

And finally, I am delighted to say Dr Andrew Furber will be joining PHE in January as our new Centre Director for Yorkshire and Humber, following the retirement of Professor Martyn Regan. Andrew is currently Director of Public Health for Wakefield and President of the Association of Directors of Public Health.

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

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