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Duncan Selbie's Friday message - 18 January 2019

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Dear everyone

PHE has now communicated the appointment of the initial Directors of Public Health for the seven new NHS regional management teams. Delivering on this new role will be a team effort for the whole of PHE and will address an important gap in public health expertise that resulted from the 2013 changes. As we move into the implementation phase of the NHS Long Term Plan, one of the most notable opportunities is the commitment that every area of England becomes part of an integrated care system (ICS). These will have a place-based population health focus alongside treatment and care with local government as an inseparable partner. The new regional directors of public health will support and facilitate this.

This provides a new opportunity to support the NHS and local government to work together in the common interest of improving health outcomes, efficiency and closing the gap between the affluent and the poor. Not all of this is new of course, with many examples of great integration and a history of joint appointments, but every ICS recruiting their lead on place-based population health from within the cadre of local authority public health directors seems to me one not to miss. This would build on the leadership role of councils in public health and place-based leadership and on emerging best practice, which recognises the significance of the contribution that the NHS must make to improving the health of the population. I look forward to discussing this further with local government and the new NHS regional directors.

The publication of the Government’s Clean Air Strategy this week is a further example that needs the whole system to pull together, with interventions across civic society and at every level. The London smogs of the 1950s have thankfully become a thing of the past, my grandfather spoke of London as the Big Smoke, and yet air pollution remains the largest environmental risk to the public’s health. The measures included in this strategy will, when implemented, make a marked contribution to improving the air we breathe and especially so for children.

During 2017 and 2018, PHE published findings on topics ranging from diseases like Ebola and Zika to whether sunlight affects our blood pressure, in 910 peer reviewed papers, in many of the world’s most acclaimed scientific journals. We have now published our annual research review for this period, showing international collaboration with academics, clinicians and field researchers. Together we are making a significant impact on actions to improve and protect the public's health.

This week marked the ten year anniversary of eBug, which is operated by PHE and aims to educate children, young people and communities about microbes, hygiene, infections and antibiotics. eBug does fantastic work in the UK and worldwide, with our resources now in more than 30 countries and 27 languages. The website and free resources are well worth a look.

And finally, I had the pleasure of speaking at our first ever Supplier Conference this week. This allowed us to meet with businesses we work with alongside colleagues from PHE, DHSC and the Cabinet Office.  It was great to engage with our supply base, share our mission and our ambition and a call to action to our suppliers to commit to our emergent Positive Procurement strategy, which draws together the best practice in social value with the importance of delivering great health and particularly mental health at work.

Best wishes


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

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