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Duncan Selbie's Friday message - 11 May 2018

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Dear everyone

Our response to the announcement made about breast screening last week has continued at great pace, with every sensitivity and the dedication needed to ensure all those affected receive advice and appropriate follow-up. The helpline is continuing to provide advice with welcome support from Macmillan and Breast Cancer Care.  As of today more than 100,000 letters have been sent to those affected and we are on track to send further letters by the end of May to every affected woman registered with a GP. NHS Screening services will start providing catch up screening invitations from next week. I cannot sufficiently thank all those people within the NHS and across PHE who are working around the clock to put things right and through the external review we will be open and transparent as we fully understand what happened and why.

Following the local elections on Thursday last, I would like to warmly welcome all those, new and returning to their roles within local government. Local government are the front line of prevention and population health. At the upper tier they have a statutory duty to improve the health of the people and at district level they are responsible for providing services that promote health including housing, planning and environmental health. In other words, local government are a part of the health system, not as a stakeholder for the NHS, but as an inseparable partner. Last week was also the first anniversary of the Metro Mayoral elections. In a short period of time the new Mayoral Combined Authorities have changed the landscape of English governance. PHE has been delighted to work with these new bodies as they seek to spread growth and prosperity across the country. This week I met with Mayor James Palmer in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and Mayor Andy Street in the West Midlands to discuss how we can further support their work on inclusive growth. Our work with these Mayors will be a big priority for us, as they develop local industrial strategies that connect health with wealth.

This week Minister for Public Health and Primary Care Steve Brine MP commissioned PHE to undertake a review of the evidence on minimum unit pricing, which will feed into the development of a new Government alcohol strategy. PHE is also supporting Government plans to improve the lives of children whose parents are dependent on alcohol by managing the £4.5M fund set up to help local authorities develop innovative and sustainable ways of improving alcohol treatment, reducing parental conflict and supporting young carers. You can find out more here.

Today Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has announced new proposals that would see junk food advertising banned from the entire Transport for London network. This ground breaking move is a bold step, and the largest of its kind in the world, in our nation's battle against childhood obesity. Actions such as these are so important to changing for the better our children's everyday experience and a signal to everyone that the tide can be turned.

And finally, Florence Nightingale was described as a social reformer, a statistician and the founder of modern nursing. Tomorrow to coincide with the anniversary of her birth it is International Nurses Day.  Nurses are experts, caregivers, advocates, researchers, innovators and so much more and the selfless job they do cannot be summed up by mere words. The PHE nursing team has published a blog describing some of the work the they have been doing to look after the public’s health locally, nationally and globally. Read it here.

With best wishes,




Friday messages from 2012-2017 are available on GOV.UK

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  1. Comment by James posted on

    How about your view on the plans for obesity in relation to The Health and Social Care Committee with Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and the latter's TV series which is highlighting some major issues with the approach and lack of response on this subject by Jeremy Hunt and Stephen Barclay?