November, 2010

Public Health White Paper/ Responsibility Deal – House of Commons debate

November 30th, 2010

Rt Hon Andrew Lansley MP: “We have learned over the last decade that state interventions alone cannot achieve success. We need a new sense of collective endeavour-a partnership between communities, businesses and individuals that transforms not only the way we deliver public health, but the way we think about it. Through the public health responsibility deal, the Government will work with industry to help people make informed decisions about their diet and lifestyle, to improve the environment for health, and to make healthy choices easier. Through greater use of voluntary and community organisations, we will reach out to families and individuals, and develop new ways to target the foundations of good health. Reflecting the framework in the ladder of interventions developed by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, we will adopt voluntary and less intrusive approaches, so that we can make more progress more quickly and resort to regulation only where we cannot make progress in partnership…”

“The right hon. Gentleman asked about the responsibility deal. Let me give him an example. In 2004, the last Labour Government said that they would introduce front-of-pack food labelling. They wanted to introduce a single traffic-light system. All that fell apart in utter confusion. There was never a consistent front-of-pack food labelling system. The last Government never worked with industry; they worked against industry, and what was the result? A variety of different systems, and nothing consistent for the public to look at.

“Only by working together on a voluntary approach will we start to make progress more quickly, whether it is on labelling, reformulation or activity with employers in the workplace. We will make progress, we will do it more quickly, and we will regulate only when necessary, rather than resorting to regulation and, as the Labour Government did, failing to make any progress and failing to regulate. That is not a basis on which we can deliver the public health improvements that we need.”

Source: http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2010-11-30b.669.0

Healthy Lives, Healthy People: Our strategy for public health in England

November 30th, 2010
What new insights into the Government’s developing view of Responsibility Deal’s is offered by the publication of the public health white paper?  Perhaps most significant is the ‘tough love’.  It is made explicit that “if these partnership approaches fail to work, the Government will consider the case for ‘moving up’ the intervention ladder where necessary.  For example, if voluntary commitments from business are not met after an agreed time period, we will consider the case for introducing change through regulation in the interests of people’s health.”  The related impact assessments on the white paper do not identify any immediate competition impacts, but we assume that there will be a more detailed impact assessment, at a later date, of the draft Responsibility Deal.

Key extracts
“Working collaboratively with business and the voluntary sector through the Public Health Responsibility Deal with five networks on food, alcohol, physical activity, health at work and behaviour change.  We plan to launch the Deal in ealy 2011 and expect to be able to announce agreements on further reformulation of food to reduce salt; better information for consumers about food; and promotion of more socially responsible retailing and consumption of alcohol.  It will also develop the Change4Life campaign, for example through the ‘Great Swapathon’, £250million of parter-funded  vouchers to make healthy lifestyle choices easier.” (pg 7)

“Businesses musttake more responsibility for the impact of their practices on people’s health and wellbeing.  The Government will work collaboratively with business and the voluntary sector through a new Responsibility Deal.” (Pg 25)

“Working through our new Public Health Responsibility Deal, the Government will aim to base these approaches on voluntary agreements with business and other partners, rather than resorting to regulation or top-down lectures.  However, if these partnership approaches fail to work, the Government will consider the case for ‘moving up’ the intervention ladder where necessary.  For example, if voluntary commitments from business are not met after an agreed time period, we will consider the case for introducing change through regulation in the interests of people’s health.” (pg 30)

“Rather than central government naggin individuals and business to become more healthy, we believe that sustained behavior change will only come about with a new approach – genuine partnership.” (pg 38)

“The Department of Health will work in partnership with employers, through the Public Health Responsibility Deal, to improve health at work.  Employers have the opportunity to improve health outcomes in areas from obesity to smoking, substance misuse and physical activity in their employees, employees’ families and wider local communities.  They can achieve this through establishing a strong cultural lead, strengthening management training in recognising and responding to the health needs of the workforce, and working more closely with others, particularly occupational health and primary care.” (pg 46)

Who is taking part?