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Lansley announces public health ‘premium’ for deprived areas

By Gareth Iacobucci

Health secretary Andrew Lansley has outlined his vision to radically refocus the Government's approach to public health with extra cash available for intiatives to curb smoking, alcohol abuse and obesity in deprived areas.

Speaking at the UK Faculty of Public Health annual conference today, the health secretary said the Government's approach would go beyond constraining the supply of illegal drugs, alcohol and tobacco, and look more closely at influencing behaviours and choices.

He announced a new framework including a list of measures to drive his vision forward, including:

• A new responsibility deal between Government and business built on shared social responsibility and not state regulation;

• A new ring-fenced public health budget;

• A new ‘Health Premium' to target public health resources towards the areas with the poorest health;

• Clear outcomes and measures to judge progress alongside NHS and social care outcomes;

• An enhanced role for Public Health Directors so they have the resources and authority to improve the health of their communities; and

• A new Cabinet Sub-Committee on Public Health, chaired by the Health Secretary, to tackle the drivers of demand on the NHS.

Mr Lansley said: ‘For too long our approach to public health has been fragmented, overly complex and sadly ineffective. We want to free the system up – to create a framework which empowers people to make the changes that will really make a difference to the nation's lives.

‘We will not be dictating the "how" when it comes to achieving better public health outcomes. But we will be very clear about the "what" – what we want to measure and achieve, such as: increases in life expectancy, decreases in infant mortality and health inequalities, improved immunisation rates, reduced childhood obesity, fewer alcohol related admissions to hospital, and more people taking part in physical activity.'

The health secretary said more detail on the proposals would emerge in a public health White Paper later this year – separate to the imminent White Paper paper on the NHS.

However, there was no mention of proposals to rename the Department of Health to the Department of Public Health, as the Conservatives had pledged prior to the election.

Lansley announces public health 'premium' for deprived areas