A new ‘Singapore style’ Office for Health Promotion will systematically tackle the ‘top preventable risk factors causing death and ill health in the UK’, the Government announced today.
Sitting within the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), the Office will combine Public Health England’ s health improvement expertise with existing DHSC health policy capabilities, according to the department.
The DHSC said the Office will ‘enable more joined-up, sustained action between national and local government, the NHS and cross-Government, where much of the wider determinants of health sit’.
It will ‘lead national efforts to improve and level up the health of the nation by tackling obesity, improving mental health and promoting physical activity’, it continued.
The Office will do this by ‘designing, implementing and tackling delivery policy across government’, bringing together a ‘range of skills to lead a new era of public health policies, leveraging modern digital tools, data and actuarial science and delivery experts’.
An expert lead will be recruited, who will report jointly into health and social care secretary Matt Hancock and the chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty.
According to the DHSC, The Office will ‘help inform a new Cross-Government agenda which will look to track these wider determinants of health and implement policies in other departments where appropriate.
‘This Office and approach will be modelled on successful methods on this agenda internationally, such as in Singapore, which has a Health Promotion Board, and has pioneered new digital public health schemes, such as their “National Steps Challenge”’.
Today’s announcement follows the establishment of the new UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), set to launch in April. The DHSC said that with the UKHSA ‘leading on health security, the Office for Health Promotion will focus on health improvement, leading at a national level to exert influence across the health and care system and beyond’.
The Office for Health Promotion will be established by the Autumn. The Government will set out more detail on plans and ambitions for improving the public’s health later this year, said the DHSC.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: ‘The new Office for Health Promotion will be crucial in tackling the causes, not just the symptoms, of poor health and improving prevention of illnesses and disease.
‘Covid-19 has demonstrated the importance of physical health in our ability to tackle such illnesses, and we must continue to help people to lead healthy lives so that we can all better prevent and fight illnesses.’
Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘Good physical and mental health are central to our happiness and well-being. Yet so much of what keeps us healthy happens outside of hospital and the health service.
‘By establishing the Office for Health Promotion we will bring health promotion into the heart of Government, working to the Chief Medical Office, so we can level up the health of our nation, working across national and local government.
‘Prevention is better than cure. By putting in place innovative prevention measures, we can help everyone to live longer, healthier lives as we ease back to normality, and relieve pressures from our NHS.’
According to the DHSC, the government will also be strengthening the national focus and capability of NHS England and the focus of local health partners on supporting better health, as part of a drive to put better population health front and centre for the whole health and care system.
The statement added: ‘This forms a key part of the planned Health and Care White Paper, with Integrated Care Systems bringing together the collective resources and strengths of the local system, the NHS, local authorities, the voluntary sector and others to improve the health of their area.
‘By joining up care, this will level up inequalities across the country and address the many determinants of health and wellbeing, to prevent or intervene early in ill health.’