The Department of Health provides strategic leadership for public health, the NHS and social care in England.
The Department of Health’s purpose is to improve England’s health and well-being and in doing so achieve better health, better care, and better value for all.
Andrew Lansley, Secretary of State for Health, set out a new vision for health and social care focused around five key priorities:
- A patient-led NHS
- Delivering better health outcomes
- A more autonomous and accountable system
- Improved public health
- Reforming long-term and social care
We have responsibility for standards of health care, including the NHS. We set the strategic framework for adult social care and influence local authority spend on social care. We also set the direction on promoting and protecting the public’s health, taking the lead on issues such as environmental hazards to health, infectious diseases, health promotion and education, the safety of medicines, and ethical issues.
We are responsible for finding the best way to develop, support and mobilise the health and social care system to deliver improvements for patients and the public.
Our work in supporting delivery includes:
- performance monitoring and evaluation
- managerial and professional leadership for external groups
- building capacity and capability
- ensuring value for money
Leading health and well-being for Government
We lead the integration of health and well-being into wider Government policy, working with other sectors and systems with which we do not have a direct relationship, as well as integrating wider public policy into health and care services. We also take the lead internationally on some health issues for the UK.
Our work on leading health and well-being for Government includes:
- working with the wider public sector, the third and private sectors on issues such as health protection or lifestyle choices, including integrating health and well-being with other Government agendas at regional level through our regional teams
- working with international partners, including the European Union (EU), World Health Organization (WHO) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
Accounting to Parliament and the public
We are responsible for supporting ministers in accounting to the public and Parliament. Public trust in the democratic process and in information provided by the Government is very important and it is vital that ministers give accurate and truthful information to Parliament and to the public.
We are also responsible for looking after and allocating public money to the NHS and adult social care services. We have the responsibility to explain to the public how their money is being spent, and what is being achieved as a result.
Our work on accounting to Parliament and the public includes:
- answering parliamentary questions – both written and oral and dealing with other Parliamentary business, debates and enquiries
- responding to letters, emails, and phone calls from the public and members of Parliament
- communicating to the public through the media and through visits and speeches
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