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Duncan Selbie's Friday message - 2 November 2018

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Dear everyone

In 2017, there were around 420,000 diagnoses of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) made in England, broadly the same number as in the previous year, and one half was diagnosed in young people aged 15 to 24. Last week, PHE launched the third phase of our Protect Against STIs campaign aimed at this age group. This phase has an additional focus on explaining that some STIs can have no symptoms, and encourages young people to feel confident to carry and use condoms. The campaign will utilise the digital platforms we know young people spend most time on – Instagram and Snapchat – and uses the music streaming service Spotify. We are hoping that everyone will highlight the campaign to their sons, daughters, friends and work colleagues.

Almost half a million people die each year in England, equating to around one person per minute. Today we published a new End of Life and Palliative Care Atlas, which includes national data showing that over the past decade, age, cause and location of death has significantly changed, with a quarter of people dying at home, a 3.9% increase between 2007 and 2016. The Atlas is the first of its kind in the world and emphasises the importance of people having the right to choice in where, and with what support their lives end.

On Thursday, we published our annual alcohol and drug statistics for people in addiction treatment. These show a continuing fall in the numbers of people in treatment for alcohol, down 17% since 2013, so there is increasing unmet need and we have published our findings on this, also yesterday. We will be discussing these with local government and NHS colleagues to agree how to best address this. The rise in the use of crack cocaine is also a concern and it is encouraging to see services are responding well with larger numbers of crack users getting treated.

PHE is hosting the IANPHI (International Association of National Public Health Institutes) annual meeting in London next week from 4 to 7 November, which will bring together the leaders of the world’s public health Agencies and Institutes to exchange best practices and connect with their peers. IANPHI comprises 110 member institutes from 93 countries and its greatest strength is the partnership and friendship it engenders between us. We have a fabulous programme planned and this year’s gathering is framed around the theme of ‘Investing in the public’s health – the case for prevention’. Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, will open the conference and set the scene from the England perspective.

Today marks the anniversary of the Disability Confident Scheme, which asks employers, both public and private, to commit to attracting and retaining the talent of disabled people. The Department for Work and Pensions has launched a month long campaign to support their ‘caring society’ priority, as well as the Government ambition of having one million more disabled people in work by 2027. We are proud that PHE has reached Disability Confident Leadership status, but know we need to continue to do more to be an attractive and vibrant place for colleagues with a disability or long term condition, so they can do their best work and feel fully supported.

And finally, on Thursday and today, the annual Due North conference was held in Anfield, home of Liverpool Football Club where 250 people have been gathering. This year the focus is on working with elected mayors and devolution, with input from both Greater Manchester and Liverpool City mayors. Due North was a report commissioned by PHE in 2014 and led by Dame Margaret Whitehead to help galvanise action on the stark health inequalities in the north and is as relevant today as four years ago.

Best wishes


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