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Duncan Selbie's Friday message - 9 November 2018

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Dear everyone

Prevention is better than cure. It emphatically saves lives and money but is uncommon as successive national policy has focused on shorter term investments. So it was such positive news this week that on Monday, Secretary of State Matt Hancock MP launched his Prevention Vision at the International Association of Public Health Institutes conference (IANPHI), which PHE has been hosting in London. Good health underpins a healthy economy and vice versa.  Health and wealth go hand in hand and we need to better support people to stay well and in work for longer, so they need the NHS less and later in life. When people are unwell, we also need to support them to stay independent in their own home for longer, avoiding a move into hospital or the care sector. This vision outlines the Government’s intention to see a bigger share of NHS resources going into prevention, particularly through primary care and mental health services. It also emphasises the importance of health in all policies and the promised Green Paper on prevention will address this. Read more in our blog.

This week the IANPHI annual meeting was held over four days and brought together National Public Health Institute directors from countries all over the world, plus representatives from the World Bank and the World Health Organization. No matter how many thousands of miles separate us, we know that infectious diseases can easily travel across borders and we all face the same problems of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). NCDs account for four of the five leading causes of death across the world with numbers one and two being ischaemic heart disease and stroke. This annual meeting is about learning from each other and getting to know each other, something we all had to improve on following the experience of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. It was brilliant to see so many great public health leaders in London and we all have much to reflect on and many conversations to continue.

Antimicrobial resistance is a priority and on our Government’s National Risk Register. This week, through a big collaborative effort, PHE and NICE have published a ‘go-to’ toolkit for prescribers in all care settings, putting the most up to the minute advice  in one place.  The guidance focuses on managing common infections, using evidence reviews to support appropriate antibiotic use and alternatives to antibiotics to manage symptoms where appropriate. Each guideline topic features a visual summary of the recommendations, a guideline and an evidence review. NICE have also recently endorsed PHE tools to support the implementation of urinary tract infections guidelines in different contexts. Combined, these resources should help us deliver the national ambitions to halve both healthcare-associated gram-negative bloodstream infections and inappropriate antibiotic prescribing and ultimately keep our antibiotics working.

This week, we have updated our Public Health Outcomes Framework (PHOF) data tool. The framework includes indicators across the full spectrum of public health, and give local authorities the opportunity to benchmark and compare their own outcomes with other local authorities. They can do this through the Fingertips web tool. In our update this week, we have updated 46 indicators in the framework, including a number of indicators of mortality by cause, substance misuse completion rates, and reported violent and sexual offences. Our blog summarises the national picture, showing continued improvements in the premature mortality rates from cancer and cardiovascular disease, and the suicide rate. Conversely, we can see there are ongoing, concerning inequalities in outcomes, and some indicators of mortality showing little change from the previous time point, after a number of years of consecutive improvements.

And finally, our ICT team have been recognised by industry experts for our hybrid cloud hosting model, having been shortlisted for the 2018 VMworld 2018 European Awards in two categories.  Our cloud infrastructure allows use of our internal cloud solution or secure external public cloud options, based on the best technical and value for money solution, and supports PHE’s scientific and high performance computing needs, including modelling and genomics. My thanks to Sam Lloyd, our Deputy Director of ICT and Francesco Giannoccaro, our Head of High Performance Computing and Infrastructure Services and their teams for this outstanding achievement and the quiet, professional service they deliver 24/7 to support our frontline services.

Best wishes


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