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Duncan Selbie's Friday message - 25 January 2019

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Dear everyone

Every year in England there are 4,500 suicides, equating to 13 people ending their life every day and suicide is the leading cause of death in men under the age of 50. This week the first Cross-Government Suicide Prevention Workplan was published with a focus on social media and how the latest technology such as predictive analytics can identify those most at risk. It also puts much needed emphasis on addressing the increase in suicide and self-harm among young people and social media companies will be asked to take more responsibility for content that promotes methods of suicide and self-harm. This is a public health priority where local government has the lead responsibility. Many are showing what can be done and forthcoming work with the ADPH and LGA will support this best practice being extended everywhere.

Antibiotic resistance is on the national risk register. From delivering babies to chemotherapy, antibiotics make healthcare safer and more effective, saving lives every day and we need to take greater care of them. On Thursday Secretary of State Matt Hancock announced a Five Year Antimicrobial Resistance National Action Plan at The World Economic Forum in Davos. PHE will support the ambition in the plan to reduce antibiotic prescribing and infections through our world-leading microbiology, surveillance, interventions, outbreak response and professional guidelines. We are also committed to engaging with the public on the importance of only taking antibiotics when necessary and listening to the advice of their doctor.

Talk to FRANK is a PHE website that gives honest advice about drugs to young people. FRANK also offers help and advice to people worried about drug use by others. The website was refreshed in December without a campaign or money spent on advertising, yet traffic to the website has since increased by 43%. FRANK received over 180,000 more visitors in December and the start of January than we were previously seeing, prompting Google to describe it as one of the best performing sites they have seen for any of their clients – private and public sector. This is prevention through digital technology at its best. In short, FRANK is giving young people clear, unbiased information in a way they are comfortable with accessing.

At PMQs on Wednesday the Prime Minister put the spotlight on declining attendance for cervical screening, adding to a week of awareness coordinated by charity Jo’s Trust, highlighting just how important screening is to the prevention of cancer. Mrs May confirmed that PHE will soon be launching a campaign to encourage women to attend their cervical screening. More to follow on this shortly.

And finally, PHE have published a proposal for changes to the Public Health Outcomes Framework, which provides commissioners and local decision makers with data across a range of health and wellbeing metrics. We are seeking feedback to ensure any changes are genuinely helpful, so please have your say by completing our survey by 17 February.

Best wishes


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


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