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Duncan Selbie's Friday message - 1 June 2018

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Dear everyone

A little over a year ago I wrote to the chief executive of every NHS Trust in England asking for their personal commitment to work with PHE towards a truly smokefree NHS, and have just done so again to thank those involved for the positive action so far. Creating a smokefree NHS is one obvious way of getting quitting support to those who need it most. Many longer term smokers will already be in poor health and in regular contact with their GPs, local hospital and wider community health services. This will also be true for many people with mental health problems, as well as pregnant women. Yesterday to coincide with World No Tobacco Day, we published a blog which looks at the inequalities caused by smoking and the next steps to tackle these. Smoking remains the leading cause of premature death in the UK, 1 in 4 inpatients are smokers and it is responsible for half of the health gap between the poorest and most affluent communities, which means we have much still to do. You can read the blog here.

The focus of World No Tobacco Day, which is run by the World Health Organization, was cardiovascular disease. The WHO also use the event to mark exemplary achievements and it was great to see the British Heart Foundation recognised for their work in championing tobacco control in the United Kingdom, which they have now been doing for over 25 years.

Last week PHE attended the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Tuberculosis inquiry into the ‘Collaborative TB Strategy for England, 2015-2020’. The inquiry has been looking at different aspects of the joint NHS England and PHE strategy, including its overall effectiveness and making an evaluation of progress. The APPG noted the year-on-year decline in the number of new cases, 38% over the last 6 years and 9.3% in the last year alone. This is a huge achievement on the part of the NHS, local government public health teams, TB Alert and PHE. Though there is more to do to eliminate TB, this is very good news. ​

Health and care professionals play a crucial role in helping people to stay well, often simply through starting conversations with the people they care for. Having an understanding of what really matters to people can be such an effective way of promoting shared decision making and healthy behaviour changes. Next week we are supporting ‘What Matters To You?’ an international awareness day encouraging more health professionals to shift the focus of their conversations from “what is the matter?” to “what matters to you?” More can be found on NHS England’s website and is well worth a read.

And finally, eating out is a big and continually growing part of our lives so it was encouraging this week to see Kentucky Fried Chicken publicly committing to our calorie reduction programme by announcing they will take out 20% of calories per serving from their food by 2025. It is good to see KFC showing industry leadership among the out of home sector, helping to create healthier options for people eating on the go.

With best wishes,




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

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  1. Comment by John Hall posted on

    The Air Traffic Air Pollution YOU Breathe kills 50,000 Uk folk EVERY YEAR and PHE has Ignored it for YEARS (FACT)