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Duncan Selbie's Friday message - 7 September 2018

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Dear everyone

There are three key priorities where I believe the NHS can make the most difference through the upcoming long term plan. These are to remove smoking from England for good; address our spiralling adult and child obesity levels and tackle the very significant numbers of avoidable deaths caused by cardiovascular disease. It is not that other priorities will not matter, but these will matter most. At the NHS Expo conference this week I talked about why we must move our thinking from patients to people and why prevention must be at the heart of this. By making strong progress on these priorities we can make a real difference to people’s lives and this is ultimately what the long term plan is about. We all want people to use the NHS less and later in life, to stay well for longer, in work for longer and, when unwell, to stay in their own homes for longer. Read more in our blog.

Data released on Tuesday shows that new HIV diagnoses are now at the lowest point since 2000 after falling by 17% in 2017. This reduction was driven mostly by a decline in diagnoses in gay and bisexual men across the UK. This is thanks to the hard work of those across the health sector who have helped increase HIV testing and repeat testing among those at higher risk, plus the increased uptake of anti-retroviral therapy. You can read more about this data in our news story.

ONS published suicide rates for England on Tuesday. These are down for the third year, an 11% fall overall and the rate is now one of the lowest on record in England. The UK male suicide rate is now the lowest since the data started being collected in 1981. This is good news, however it is still 4521 lives lost – both adult and young people, and families and friends devastated. This progress is testament to the work of multi-agency partnerships led by local authorities, including the NHS and third sector. We will continue to build on our work on the Prevention Concordat for better mental Health and in strengthening the Suicide prevention plans across England until we get this closer to zero. These are available on the ONS website.

Two weeks ago PHE confirmed that a case of Middle Eastern Respiratory Virus had been found in Leeds. Although the risk to the general population remained low following this, PHE and NHS England both nationally and regionally traced those who had been in contact with the patient and advised on infection control measures. Our health protection experts plan in great detail for the possibility of events such as this leading to seamless, efficient action when needed. My thanks go to all those involved in the response.

And finally, next week PHE will be hosting its annual conference at Warwick University. Bringing together people from right across the public health sector always makes for a stimulating and highly enjoyable event and I hope that those who attend will soak up plenty of debate, learning and networking. We will cover three themes: working towards a fairer, healthier society; making the economic case for prevention; and turning world leading science and evidence into action and I look forward to welcoming many of you there. The full programme can be found on our conference website.

Best wishes


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

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  1. Comment by Thomas posted on

    Dear Duncan

    Looking forward to the conference at Warwick next week. Good to see mental health and wellbeing a the fore too with the talk with Johnnie Wilkinson.

    Are we in a position to also touch on what's coming up in terms of Every Mind Matters?

    Best wishes