I went to a breakfast event at the King’s Fund this morning with Conservative Shadow Health Minister Stephen O’Brien MP. He was speaking alongside Sue Slipman, Director of the Foundation Trust Network, and Jonathan Nicholls, who is Research Director for Health and NHS at Ipsos MORI. O’Brien shored up the Conservatives’ public health credentials by outlining some of their policy thinking, should they be elected into Government.
According to O’Brien public health budgets would be ring-fenced by the Tories and he promised “support” for Directors of Public Health. O’Brien is also interested in including public health in all clinical career paths, and floated the idea of doctors spending six months in developing countries during their post-qualification training so that they lean public health principles.
After questions from the floor, O’Brien criticised the use of deprivation indices when calculating public health budgets, arguing that instead they should be calculated on the burden of disease in each area. He also expressed support that some social care interventions e.g. stair lifts for older people should be provided out of public health budgets. The Conservatives also want to change the statutory remit of NICE so that their guidance looks at wider societal costs of treatment, something O’Brien pledged to do in their first Health Bill should they be elected.
Snippets of the conversation are available to listen to at the King’s Fund website.