New Office to level up the nation’s health

The new Office for Health Promotion will lead national efforts to improve and level up the health of the nation by tackling obesity, improving mental health and promoting physical activity.

The Office’s remit will be to systematically tackle the top preventable risk factors causing death and ill health in the UK, by designing, implementing and tracking delivery policy across government. It will bring together a range of skills to lead a new era of public health polices, leveraging modern digital tools, data and actuarial science and delivery experts.

The Department of Health and Social Care has said that it is recruiting an expert lead who will report jointly into the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, and the Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty. The Office for Health Promotion will sit within the DHSC and will lead work across government to promote good health and prevent illness which shortens lives and costs the NHS billions every year, building on the work of Public Health England.

It is hoped that the organisation will enable more joined-up, sustained action between national and local government, the NHS and cross-government, where much of the wider determinants of health sit. The new Office will combine Public Health England’s health improvement expertise with existing DHSC health policy capabilities, in order to promote and deliver better health to communities nationwide.

Matt Hancock said: “Good physical and mental health are central to our happiness and well-being. Yet so much of what keeps us healthy happens outside of hospital and the health service.

“By establishing the Office for Health Promotion we will bring health promotion into the heart of Government, working to the Chief Medical Office, so we can level up the health of our nation, working across national and local government. Prevention is better than cure. By putting in place innovative prevention measures, we can help everyone to live longer, healthier lives as we ease back to normality, and relieve pressures from our NHS.”

Chris Whitty said: “Preventing ill health and supporting our communities to live healthy lives is very important. The non-direct harms of Covid on the public’s health will not be trivial. We need an evidence-informed and collaborative approach to health promotion and to support this recovery.

“The Office for Health Promotion will work across both national and local government as well as with the NHS, academia, the third sector, scientists, researchers and industry to develop evidence informed policies.”

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