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Duncan Selbie's Friday message - 26 April 2019

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Dear everyone

First to say and acknowledge the terrible loss for the public health family with the tragic death of Dr Sally Bradley, former Director of Public Health in Greater Manchester and medical director of Pennine Acute NHS Trust, in the bombings in Sri Lanka alongside her husband. Sally was loved by many and a role model for everyone and our thoughts are with Sally’s family and all those who knew and worked alongside her.

This week the Gambling Commission published a National Strategy to reduce gambling harms, bringing together the health and third sectors, regulators and businesses to focus on prevention and education and on treatment and support. Alongside this, PHE will be producing an independent evidence review and to complement this, the National Institute of Health Research has commissioned a review of the effectiveness of policies and interventions which will form part of our review. We expect to present interim findings at the PHE conference in September and to publish the full report early next year.

From GPs, pharmacists and nurses, to scientists and policy experts, every person working in the health and care sector should speak up and confidently about the value of vaccines. European Immunisation Week, which began on Wednesday, has been encouraging everyone to support vaccine heroes, those who work on the frontline and who PHE research shows are the most trusted source of information about vaccines.

Our research also says around 1 in 10 parents have seen, read or heard about something that would make them doubt having their child vaccinated. While this is a third fewer than in 2002, it means there is more to do on this.  We have very strong public commitment to vaccines, a well organised and free immunisation service, an assured supply of vaccines and superb NHS colleagues that can help answer the questions that parents have. The message is clear - vaccines are safe and save lives and it should be as natural for all children to be vaccinated as it is to attend school. Accurate messaging on vaccines can be found on our social media channels and we have a suite of information on childhood vaccination in our blog.

It is estimated that around 6,000 people in the UK who have never smoked die of lung cancer every year, greater than the numbers of people who die of cervical cancer (900), lymphoma (5,200), leukaemia (4,500) and ovarian cancer (4,200). Professor Paul Cosford, PHE’s Medical Director, is lead author on a paper published this week by a group of respiratory medicine and public health experts, which calls for lung cancer in never-smokers to be given greater recognition. Most people think of lung cancer as unique to smokers and while this remains the main association, this paper shows the scale of the challenge in raising awareness of other risk factors such as air pollution. You can read more in the full paper.

Treatwell, the largest online marketplace for booking hair and beauty treatments in the UK, is working with PHE to start conversations and break down barriers around cervical screening. Treatwell research shows that around 1.2 million young women attend a salon for intimate waxing every year and the ‘Life Saving Wax’ initiative will use the relationship between a beauty therapist and customer to open the conversation about preventing cervical cancer. 500 partner salons across the country will place information about screening throughout their premises and highlight to customers when appropriate that they can stop cancer before it starts. Salons will direct women to further information, support, tips and advice. This news story has more information.

And finally, warm congratulations to Professor John Newton, PHE’s Director of Health Improvement, on his election as Vice President of the Faculty of Public Health. John will work in support of Maggie Rae, incoming president as of June and we look forward to forging an ever-stronger professional bond between our organisations.

Best wishes


Friday messages from 2012-2018 are available on GOV.UK

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