PHE has much to learn from Scotland’s work on addressing inequalities

Duncan Selbie: our aim is to understand what people most want of us and provide it.

On Monday the CMO, Professor Dame Sally Davies, published volume two of her annual report focusing on infectious diseases and particularly the threats of antimicrobial resistance. This sits at the very heart of our responsibility for communicable diseases and you will see this reflected in various chapters.

We are refreshing our vision for the Chrysalis programme, designed to bring together our national assets in microbiology and epidemiology in Porton and Colindale, and those of the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control, onto a single integrated campus, most probably in Harlow, Essex. This is about planning for the next 30 years but brings with it natural concerns for those staff most directly affected. Please be assured that should we go ahead the greatest care will be taken to get this right. Richard Gleave, Chief Operating Officer, and Paul Cosford, Director for Health Protection and Medical Director, will be hosting listening events for staff at Porton on 17 April and Colindale on 25 April.

This week we held the first two of our regional ‘Going Live’ events in the North (Leeds) and South (Swindon). We have really appreciated that such a wide range of our partners have been able to join us. Everyone from local councillors, CCG commissioners, the NHS Commissioning Board and directors of public health, to PHE centre teams have said they found these really helpful opportunities to meet colleagues and talk through the practical issues as the new public health system goes live in 17 days. Our aim is to understand what people most want of us and provide it, rather than say this is what we have and we would like you to want it. We are also running a series of internal ‘Going Live’ events, the latest being in London and the West Midlands and I continue to have the singular pleasure of meeting with senior political leaders and senior management teams in local government, most recently in Kent and Essex.

Notwithstanding the wind and rain the plane landed safely in Edinburgh on Friday last, allowing me to affirm our unbreakable commitment to our professional relationship with Scotland, and completing my introduction to the three devolved administrations. Sir Harry Burns, Scotland’s CMO, described their journey and ambition and we have much to learn from their work on addressing inequalities. Communicating a compelling narrative for England and recreating a similar sense of family and shared ambition for our public health community, wherever people work in the system or whoever their employer, seems to me two early themes for us to concentrate on.

And finally, on Monday Professor Kevin Fenton and I introduced PHE to the Industry Key Partners Forum chaired by Minister for Health Anna Soubry. We listened hard to the perspective of 20 plus major corporates including supermarkets, convenience stores, high street pharmacists and many others and hopefully got across our absolute intention to work with them in making further and faster improvements to the public’s health. They in turn have much to teach us about health and wellbeing in the workplace.

In Duncan Selbie, Public Health England

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