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Softly and suddenly vanish away – Department of Health Responsibility Deal


Remember the Department of Health Responsibility Deal? It emerged in the early days of the Coalition Government, well, I think its gone. I cannot find any official announcements but articles in the Daily Mail and The Grocer around December 2015 signal its demise – although the word used is ‘pause’.

The Responsibility Deal (RD) was Andrew Lansleys attempt to establish a public-private partnership between industry, government, public bodies and voluntary organisations in England. Organisations involved made voluntary ‘pledges’ on various areas, including alcohol, which are designed to improve public health and hence avoid trying to drive health improvement through regulation. Initially it was aimed at traditional targets – principally the alcohol and food industries but it developed to pick up on other areas notably mental health and health in the workplace.

I have documented some of its struggles in earlier blogs:

Its not our fault guv’

Evidence that the deal is dead is scattered around the web – this includes

Of course the Government has to say that it was a tremendous success – just look at the evidence based (not!) statement below by Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Public Health Jane Ellison MP this was given as part of her Responsibility Deal Presentation in March 2015.

Who cares that it is gone?

I would imagine that some of the 776 organisations who have signed up to the pledges might be a tad upset that the Government has walked away from this.

Similarly some special interest groups might also be a bit irritated at the time lost by this diversion from real policy change and activity. In my view this applies particularly to mental health in the workplace – where there is precious little activity taking place anyway.

What can be learnt

We do need to learn from this. Most importantly – and I realise this will fall on deaf ears – the Government needs to learn from this process and share this learning. Here are some thoughts:

At the end of the day the level of its impact can best be measured by the deathly silence from all the organisations who signed up – that is the sufficient indication of its irrelevance.

What do you think?

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