In my travels around the UK so far two big issues keep cropping up. How can we persuade the UK Health Departments and the NHS to really take public health seriously? And will there be enough jobs for public health consultants as they come off the production line?
Sir Derek Wanless’ latest report was certainly a rap over the knuckles for government in terms of its lack of investment in prevention and health improvement. And the sheer size of the problem was brought home even more forcibly by last week’s Foresight Report by the Chief Scientist.
Certainly we’re not short of political rhetoric. At Brighton, Bournemouth and Blackpool , all three health spokespeople were singing from the same songsheet about fairness, efficiency, empowering patients, empowering communities and the crucial importance of prevention. The Secretary of State, Alan Johnson, has made it his personal mission to do something meaningful about reducing health inequalities. And the devolved administrations are also all ‘on board’ with this pubic health agenda.
But where’s the money? Health has just received a not-as-bad-as-expected settlement in the Comprehensive Spending Review. The vital thing now is to make sure that public health gets a much bigger slice of the pie – not just at local level, but also regionally and nationally. And this of course will have a profound effect on future public health jobs.
I will be making strong representations on the issue of public health funding and workforce at forthcoming encounters with NHS Chief Exec David Nicholson and England CMO Sir Liam Donaldson.