As we await the Government’s response to the “Pause” and its response to its various consultations I was reflecting again on its draft public health strategy – “Healthy Lives, Healthy People” and the associated Public Health Outcomes Framework.
In part this was prompted by a recent posting by David Buck on his Kings Fund blog – but also by the fact that tomorrow I am helping to run a National Think Tank – Active Communities for Health which is organised by the People in Public Health Team at Leeds Metropolitan University. It will be considering how we can develop a stronger more organised way of seeking to influence the Department of Health in particular in order to advocate more powerfully for public health solutions that are based on greater partnership with citizens and communities.
There is considerable experience on the ground in developing small but influential services that are based on strong relationships with people – particularly those from disadvantaged communities. I have written earlier about Darnall Well Being – but they are not alone. Altogether Better has now trained over 12,500 community health champions in Yorkshire and Humber and in the Northwest there are excellent organisations like Unlimited Potential working in Salford.
Yet when we look at Department of Health Policy like the public health strategy – but also other work like the recent Mental Health Strategy or the Tobacco Control Strategy – the importance of relationships with citizens in co-design and co-delivery barely merits a mention. When it is there it is usual in a “case studies box” – a clear sign that it is still seen as being in the “interesting and innovative category” rather than the mainstream one.
This is particularly frustrating because I think that we are on the cusp of being able to offer practical, evidence based ideas that would lead to significant system redesign that could create the conditions for more empowered citizens who are more knowledgable about their own health and well being and more able to take control of how to improve it.
But we need commitment and interest at a national level to maintain the momentum – hence the event tomorrow.