Public health criticised

Health policy needs to be rebalanced to make it more focused on improving
health not just health care

Government policy on public health is too heavily concentrated on acute
care, hospitals and beds and the numbers of doctors and nurses, an influential
committee of MPs has said.

The Health Select Committee report on public health, published in March,
found there was a need to achieve a better balance in health policy between
health and health care.

There was a "strong" case for rebalancing health policy, and
making it more focused on improving health, not just on health care.

MPs also suggested there was "confusion surrounding the leadership of
public health at every level" and called on the Minister for Public
Health, Yvette Cooper, to be given the freedom "to demonstrate more
positive and public leadership for improving health and reducing health

"We consider that insufficient attention has been given to the
application of knowledge and practice in public health.

"For too long the public health function has been dominated by a
culture, mindset and training scheme which stresses the epidemiology and
science of public health, rather than its practice in bringing about
change," the committee said.

There was also too great an emphasis on "top-down" targets and
performance agreements, and stronger incentives were needed to give health
improvement priority, it added.

The report came at the same time as the Chief Medical Officer for England,
Professor Liam Donaldson, published his report on the Government’s project to
strengthen the public health function.

This stressed new mechanisms for co-ordination and communication were
already under way.

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