Does the Public Health White Paper Truly Seize Opportunities to Improve Health?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

In February 2011, the Bow Group Health & Education Policy Committee submitted written evidence as part of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Primary Care and Public Health's special inquiry into the Government's public health White Paper. This followed a direct invitation from the APPG on the back of the Committee's publication, 'Putting the Health Back into Education', which included a foreword from Charlotte Leslie MP (Member of the Education Selection Committee) and which is available here.   The APPG's special inquiry, whose membership includes Kevin Barron MP (Co-Chair), Julie Elliott MP (Executive Officer), Dr Sarah Wollaston MP (member of the Health Select Committee), Mark Garnier MP (member of the Treasury Select Committee), and Theresa Villiers MP (Minister of State for Transport), examined the Government's public health policies as outlined in 'Healthy Lives, Healthy People: Our Strategy for Public Health in England' to see whether the White Paper truly seizes opportunities for better health.   On 31st March 2011, the APPG published its full report (see attached) comprising 13 key recommendations that will be submitted directly to Andrew Lansley, the Secretary of State for Health.  The Bow Group is quoted directly throughout the report with the APPG recommending the Group's proposal for health education:   "Health education is closely linked to public health, equipping people with the knowledge and education to live healthy lives; reducing reliance on the NHS and ensuring economic productivity is not undermined by unhealthy lifestyles and illness. It is an issue that should be of amplified interest and importance to a wide range of different stakeholders - not just Government or the public sector, but also the private and voluntary sectors and, of course, individuals and families.  Health education is therefore inescapably a societal issue - an issue that affects public health.  The Bow Group" (APPG report, April 2011, p. 16).    Stuart Carroll, Chairman of the Health & Education Policy Committee, said:   "I am delighted to see the Bow Group playing a lead role in submitting evidence to important health consultations and inquiries, and it is particularly pleasing that our submitted evidence to the APPG for Primary Care and Public Health has been directly taken on board, not least our proposals on health education.  Given the Government's far-reaching NHS reforms and the current listening period announced by the Prime Minister, think tanks such as the Bow Group have an important role to play in shaping, formulating and improving Government policy.  I look forward to the Bow Group continuing to make its contribution in this regard, and thank the APPG for their invitation to submit evidence and for hearing the strength of our proposals and recommendations".     The APPG will also be submitting evidence to the National Curriculum consultation where it will also cite the Bow Group's findings on health education.    For more information on the Bow Group Health & Education Policy Committee, please contact Stuart Carroll on