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Duncan Selbie's Friday message - 2 February 2018

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Dear everyone

Stroke is the third most common cause of early death and a leading cause of disability in the UK. Although the majority of strokes occur in older people, 38% of first time strokes happen in middle-aged adults, the proportion of which has risen dramatically in the past decade. On Thursday we launched our Act FAST campaign, which highlights the risk of stroke, reminds people of the signs and urges the public to call 999 if they notice even one of the key symptoms in themselves or others. Timely treatment is crucial in reducing the risk of permanent disability or death and knowing these signs could save a life. Please do share the campaign resources far and wide.

At the National Suicide Prevention Alliance (NSPA) Conference on Wednesday, Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt commented that despite the commendable dedication and hard work of NHS staff, there are still too many preventable suicides in care settings. People in contact with mental health services account for 25% of all suicides in England and the Secretary of State is urging the NHS to strive for a ‘zero suicide' approach. There is an onus on the whole public health system and partners to play a part in helping to reduce suicides by ensuring those recovering from mental health challenges are supported in employment, live in decent housing where they can feel safe, comfortable and have access to services and the support they need. You can read about PHE’s suicide prevention work here, and we will continue working with local authorities, NHS England, NHS Improvement and the community and voluntary sector to ensure that the £25 million allocated for suicide prevention in 2018-2020 makes the biggest possible impact.

Last year the Government decided to make Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) compulsory in all secondary schools and relationships education compulsory in all primary schools from September 2019. This was very much welcomed by the public health family as we know that good quality RSE is wanted by young people and that it will help them in the choices that they make.  The Department for Education is leading a consultation process which closes on 12 February and can be found here.

Congratulations to PHE’s Chief Nutritionist Dr Alison Tedstone who was last week awarded the prestigious Health & Vitality Special Achievement Honour. This is richly deserved recognition from industry for her relentless work in heading up our world-leading programme for tackling childhood obesity.

And finally, every Arms Length Body of Government has a Framework Agreement which sets out how the relationship is governed and the obligations and freedoms therein. The PHE Framework Agreement has been refreshed and you can see this here.

With best wishes,




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

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