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Duncan Selbie's Friday message - 13 July 2018

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Dear everyone

Firstly, I would like to warmly congratulate Matt Hancock MP on his appointment as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and we look forward to working with him. My thanks and best wishes to Jeremy Hunt as he embarks on his new role as Foreign Secretary.

The large scale, round-the-clock response to the poisoning in Amesbury has dominated the week. Tracy Daszkiewicz, Director of Public Health for Wiltshire, has been out on the streets with local PHE leaders spending time with local people while working day and night as part of the response team. This same community is the home and workplace of many PHE staff due to the proximity of PHE Porton and I am very proud that forty of our people have stepped forward and volunteered to provide information and reassurance to local residents by handing out leaflets and answering questions. There is incredible resilience being shown by local residents and by those working on the response and my thanks go out to every person involved and affected by this constantly evolving incident.

Last October PHE published the Public Health Dashboard in shadow form and following a period of consultation the latest version of this is now live, available digitally for every local authority and accessible by the public. This aims to support local authorities in making decisions on how they prioritise resources across a range of public health concerns. You can learn more about this and the rationale behind the data included in our blog.

Patients who present in A&E departments with cancer as an emergency suffer significantly worse outcomes. There are many complex reasons for emergency presentation but we know that awareness of signs and symptoms and getting people to go to their GPs early to get these checked matters greatly to survival. The latest quarterly figures for emergency presentations were published this week and the numbers remain concerning with around 1 in 5 presenting late. The forthcoming long term plan for the NHS is the next opportunity to do something about this using every available means to get this message across to people that presenting early saves lives.

Tackling domestic violence needs everyone to help break its cycle in our homes, communities and workplaces. With most working adults spending at least one third of their life in work, employers are in a unique position to spot the signs of domestic abuse and crucially be able to point people in the right direction for help and support. Working with Business in the Community, we have developed a toolkit which the Prime Minister made reference to during Prime Minister’s Questions last week, that supports employers to help keep staff safe from abuse. You can find this here.

I had the pleasure of contributing to a celebration event on Wednesday evening to mark the retirement of Sir David Behan, Chief Executive of the Care Quality Commission. The theme for the evening was service quality and the contribution that leadership made to this. Sir David has been a quintessential leader over his forty year career and I was honoured to be part of publically recognising this.

And finally, this week we published our annual report for 2017/18.  We are entering our sixth year as the nation’s public health agency and while there is always more to do and learn, we are in good shape and moving forward from a strong and confident foundation.

Best wishes




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

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