The general election is not an addendum to a referendum. It’s not a card game, dealing hands over Brexit. So let’s debate general policy matters for a better, healthier UK.
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Those who called for the UK to leave the EU wanted us to be ‘self-reliant’. The next government should look at big questions that can improve our health, environment, educational achievements and economy. Can the UK feed itself, house itself, power itself and care for itself? Can the UK grow healthier? If we are to ‘take back control’, will we take it back from the corporate interests that make our children fat, poison our air, and send our adults to an early grave?
The next government needs to think more about our long-term health and work with councils and communities to focus on preventing ill-health, easing pressure on our overburdened health and care services. Improving health will improve economic productivity; enhancing our health and care industries will provide a platform for health-related job creation: the ‘health dividend’.
There are specific challenges in the Brexit agenda about which we need to remain vigilant to protect the public’s health: consumer protection; research and collaborations; farming, fisheries and a new Food Act; trade (placing the right to health at the heart of free trade agreements); and protecting our health and social care workforce.
FPH’s manifesto, Start Well, Live Better, sets out our 12-point action plan for public health. We have seen breakthroughs on plain packaging, sugar tax and personal, social and health education in schools, but much remains to be done. The government must redress the cuts in public health and the reductions in a skilled, life-saving public health workforce.
The next government can secure future generations’ wellbeing by building a health-creating society, supported by all sectors of the economy and the wider population. It can accelerate and fund a world-class health and care system. It can strengthen the UK’s role as a global centre for health research, and strengthen the UK’s leadership on global health problems, as it has with anti-microbial resistance. Councils have grasped the opportunity to apply the health-in-all-policies approach: it is time for national government to take up the mantle.
If you want to keep up to date with this and other key developments in public health, why not join the Faculty of Public Health as an associate member? Go to http://www.fph.org.uk/membership
Column sponsored and supplied by the Faculty of Public Health
Faculty of Public Health