Westminster Health Forum

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The future of public health in England, the impact of the Government’s health and care white paper, and the role of the UK Health Security Agency

April 2021

Price: £95 PLUS VAT

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***
This conference will examine key developments and priorities for the future of public health in England.

Areas for discussion include:

  • the role of public health in meeting challenges posed by the pandemic
  • priorities for the National Institute for Health Protection
  • the new white paper on the future of health and care, as well as the future of government intervention and coordination of public health across both national policy and local health systems
  • changing policy approaches to tackling obesity and health inequalities

We are pleased to include a keynote contribution at this conference from Baroness Harding, Interim Chair, National Institute of Health Protection England; Executive Chair, NHS Test and Trace; as well as from Professor John Newton, Director, Health Improvement, Public Health England; Professor Maggie Rae, President, Faculty of Public Health; Richard Sloggett, Founder and Programme Director, Future Health and Former Special Adviser to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care; and Dr Rebecca Elliott, Prevention Policy Manager, British Heart Foundation.

The conference is bringing together stakeholders with parliamentary pass-holders from both Houses of Parliament, and a range of key policy officials who are due to attend from DHSC; the Cabinet Office; DIT; the Government Legal Department; HMPPS; the Joint Biosecurity Centre; the MoJ; and the NAO.

The agenda:

  • Priorities for public health in England and maintaining momentum for health improvement post-COVID
  • The role of the National Institute for Health Protection in the future of public health in England and coordinating pandemic response efforts
  • Key strategic priorities for the development of the National Institute for Health Protection and its role in public health
  • Assessing prospects for the Government’s new approach to obesity policy
  • Key national priorities to achieve effective local public health - funding, accountability and prevention
  • Taking forward local approaches to public health and health inequalities - lessons from the pandemic, using data and technology, system working and community engagement
  • The way ahead for improving public health in local communities and recovery from the impact of COVID-19

Key areas for discussion:

The role of national government in public health - including:

  • the new white paper on the future of health and care - and the future of government intervention and coordination of public health across both national policy and local health systems
  • ways of coordinating efforts across Government - in prevention and public health, and the potential for Ministers to have increased direct control over public health
  • removing barriers to effective public health delivery - and assessing key considerations for national support to deliver joined up care at system level that aligns public health, healthcare and social care, and utilises population health management
  • PHE’s health improvement functions - their location of going forward, the potential for these to become more centralised and brought under the control of the Secretary of State, and the opportunities and challenges this provides around independence and accountability

The NIHP and the future for health improvement:

  • the role of the NIHP - how should the Institute approach its responsibilities in relation to:
    • COVID-19 - providing the surveillance, monitoring, research and guidance to manage the outbreak
    • the long term - levels of preparation for and resilience to future health crises, as well as research and analysis in this area
  • goals and implementation:
    • leadership - how to provide the continuity and momentum required to maintain wider efforts in health improvement
    • joint working - ways in which the Institute can play an effective part in the wider systems of public health
    • resources - assessing the capacity and capabilities required for the Institute to perform its functions
  • organisation:
    • health improvement functions - their future, and putting in place the appropriate structures and organisations for them to be carried out
    • governance - establishing clear responsibility and accountability structures within the Institute, and ensuring transparency
  • focus:
    • balancing priorities - both new and emerging threats, as well as the public health issues that were already in place pre-COVID
    • implementation strategies - what does a system that achieves them and improves health outcomes look like, taking account of both local and national requirements
    • prevention - how preventative efforts can be maintained and become an integral part of health protection and improvement in the future, especially in areas such as mental health

Public health commissioning:

  • through the pandemic - looking at programmes and services including maintaining national immunisation and screening
  • into the future - looking at the impact of the Government’s new white paper on the future of health and care and priorities for advancing programmes, supporting long-term transformation and recovery from the pandemic

Tackling obesity:

  • policy developments - implications of the Government’s new strategy for the future of public health, with a comparatively more interventionist approach in improving the food environment
  • key measures - including mandatory calorie labelling in the out of home sector, a watershed for HFSS TV advertisements, and restrictions on HFSS in-store promotions, as well as further interventions around front of packet labelling and online advertising
  • COVID-19:
    • increased risk - with health conditions such as obesity and diabetes found to be significant factors underlying worse outcomes when contracting COVID-19
    • policy impact - has the pandemic caused a shift in approach to tackling obesity, and supporting people to maintain a healthy weight with the new Health and Social Care Integration White Paper, including a focus on public health and further interventions for obesity
    • implications - what the pandemic means for both obesity policy and wider public health policy moving forward

Inequalities and local approaches to public health:

  • supporting local innovation - linking national public health priorities with coalface initiatives, and what is needed to build upon them and help to advance policy ambitions for prevention
  • central government’s role - priorities for clarity on responsibility and accountability for the public health agenda, funding and resources, and assessing what further support is needed at a national level
  • levelling up - health inequalities in the context of this central plank of government policy with COVID-19, and the Marmot Review highlighting the variation being experienced around the country
  • ICS - how to maximise the opportunities they provide for public health and tackling inequalities by taking a localised and place-based approach in line with the Long Term Plan
  • data and technology - latest developments and the next steps for utilising population health methods to inform local systems in their approach to improving public health
  • lessons from the pandemic:
    • assessing what can be done to harness the positive outcomes from public health initiatives during the pandemic
    • with the response requiring local action and approaches with communities, systems and services coming together to provide support

A scan of relevant developments:

  • Integration and Innovation: working together to improve health and social care for all - the Government’s recent health and social care white paper, including:
    • increased direct control of public health being given to Ministers
    • healthcare systems - proposals on integration of public health with healthcare, and social care in local health systems with joined up care and population health management
    • further Government intervention in obesity - with additional HFSS advertising restrictions and powers to amend food labelling
  • Government creates new National Institute for Health Protection - bringing together PHE, Test and Trace and the Joint Biosecurity Centre to take forward the response to the pandemic and improve public health protection and resilience against future infectious diseases, due to be formally constituted by spring, but with full operation delayed until October
  • the Population Health Improvement Stakeholder Advisory Group - established to look into the future for health improvement functions normally carried out by PHE, and ways that these can be strengthened, as well as the most appropriate structure and organisations to take these functions forward nationally and locally
  • the Tackling Obesity strategy:
    • which includes measures to improve the food environment and support healthy choices and healthy weight management
    • Restricting promotions of products high in fat, sugar and salt by location and by price: enforcement - the Government’s recent consultation on location and volume promotions in medium-sized and large stores, and soft drinks in the eating-out sector
  • COVID-19: review of disparities in risks and outcomes - PHE finding links between people with health conditions such as obesity and diabetes, as well as those from some ethnic minority backgrounds, and having increased risk of poor health outcomes from COVID-19
  • the NHS Long Term Plan - including ambitions for preventative healthcare and the establishment of integrated care systems and population health management
  • Health Equity In England: The Marmot Review 10 Years On - which found that health improvement has stalled and that people living in deprived areas spend longer in poor health, with the gap between well-off and deprived areas growing, and the Build Back Fairer: The COVID-19 Marmot Review which outlines priorities for recovery following the pandemic
  • the Advancing Our Health: Prevention in the 2020s green paper - and ongoing work on preventative healthcare
  • Women's Health Strategy: Call for Evidence - DHSC consultation aiming to make sure that public health reforms and moves towards integrated care work for women

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by parliamentarians from both Houses of Parliament, and officials from the Cabinet Office; the Department for Health and Social Care; the Department for International Trade; the Government Legal Department; HM Prison & Probation Service; the Joint Biosecurity Centre; the Ministry of Justice; and the National Audit Office.
Overall, we expect speakers and attendees to be a senior and informed group including Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior government and regulatory officials involved in this area of public policy, together with representatives from the NHS including clinical staff, executive agencies, public health specialists, local authorities, integrated care systems, the independent and third sectors, patient groups, pharmaceutical and medical technology companies, research and development institutions, social care providers, law firms and consultancies, academics and think tanks, and reporters from the national and specialist media.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording and transcript to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

This pack includes

  • Dropbox video recording of the conference
  • PDF transcript of the discussion, including all speaker remarks and Q&A
  • PDFs of speakers' slide material (subject to permission)
  • PDFs of the delegate pack, including speaker biographies and attendee list
  • PDFs of delegate articles