Government report to drive improvement of health in UK

A major report for the Government on public health has
called for a more coherent approach to improving the health of the nation,
particularly regarding smoking, obesity, and encouraging people to take more


The Securing Good Health for the Whole Population report by
former NatWest Bank chairman Derek Wanless urged the Government to draw up
consistent national objectives.


The Department of Health is due to publish a White Paper on
public health in the autumn, and has started a three-month nationwide


The cost-effectiveness of current approaches needed to be
evaluated. The NHS’s productivity needed to be judged in terms of the benefit
of the treatment, and not just the number of operations carried out, the Wanless
report said.


Wanless also said more ways of improving public education
were needed – particularly for those with poor literacy – and suggested an
annual report on the state of the nation’s health.


Other actions could include a tax on junk food, setting up a
website and national helpline to offer advice on healthy living – perhaps as
part of NHS Direct – and assessing the role of specialist public health


The report argued that the NHS needed to work harder at
improving the physical and mental well-being of its workforce. "Achieving
the goal of a population ‘fully engaged’ in improving health, to avoid becoming
sick rather than treating sickness, is a major prize," Wanless said.


Anti-smoking campaigners welcomed suggestions that a workplace
smoking ban could reduce the prevalence of smoking by around 4 per cent to 23
per cent.


Deborah Arnott, director of the charity Action on Smoking
and Health, said: "Polls show overwhelming public support for stopping
smoking at work.


"It would be the single most effective intervention to
improve public health in the past 20 years," she added.

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