Recommendations for improving the capacity of public health in the UK

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A paper for the EU about the capacity of public health across the continent identifies the following as the recommendations for action:

  • Build competence across all sectors that can contribute to the health of the public within and beyond health care
  • Develop skills and knowledge (competences) in the wider workforce (i.e., those who make an impact on the population’s health through their role but would not necessarily call themselves public health workers e.g., teachers and urban planners. This workforce already exists and needs recognition and awareness-raising of their potential contribution
  • Improve information linking environmental factors and others (e.g., transport, planning) with health outcomes (e.g., to effect behavioural change) 
  • Ensure public health retains its influence across all sectors and at all levels by carrying out health impact analysis on all public policy; ensure that importance and relevance of public health is well understood by all sectors 
  • Strengthen multidisciplinary/multisectoral public health workforce that is adequately resourced to meet the needs of the population
  • Ensure adequate investments in health and well-being
  • Ensure that proposals for developing a new Public Health Service in England lead to enhancement of links with academia to expand capacity, and translate research into practice, and ensure that more undertaken research is informed by service needs
  • Additional research funding in areas such as evidence to support behaviour change

Intriguingly only the UK’s recommendations specifically talk about including teachers in terms of developing the wider workforce.

Anyway sounds like a good list to me.

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Policy Précis – Making the link: Youth and health equity

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Drawing on the recommendations of the WHO the Equity Channel website have produced a policy précis about young people and creating health equity:

The health and wellbeing of young people need specific attention from policy-makers. While an integrated and holistic approach is the way forward, a life course approach recognizing the specific characteristics and needs of every stage in life is needed. Addressing the needs, priorities and risk factors of the youth in a realistic manner, while taking into account differences related to age, gender, sexuality, disability, ethnical and cultural backgrounds, makes social and economic sense for now and for the future.

The whole thing can be downloaded here.

Smoking, drinking and drug use by young people in England

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We know that it’s almost time for the next survey of young people’s smoking, drinking and drug use in England, but until then here’s a presentation that Claire has done as part of the work we’re doing on our new Alcohol and Drug Education and Prevention Information Service (ADEPIS).

We’re going to be launching the service properly on 10th June and there are still a few places left if you’d like to join us.

Managing high risk behaviours in adolescents – Ofsted case study

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In December 2007, Ethan, a 14-year-old boy, died as a result of a heroin overdose. Ethan was looked after and being supported by a range of services that were intended to protect him. Following his death, an independent management review was undertaken to establish what lessons could be learnt and what actions needed to be taken to minimise the risks to other young people. 

Ofsted have highlighted Northumberland County Council’s risk management model which seeks to safeguard adolescents who are taking significant risks with their health.  Their briefing “provides an overview of the processes in place in Northumberland and the impact that this way of working is having. It includes information about the risk management framework, a multi-agency partnership approach and engaging young people.”

What We Don’t Know about Evidence-based Programs

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Pertinent thoughts on the limitations of the evidence base we’re working with…

Interestingly, current replications of evidence-based programs place a priority on ensuring that the programs are being implemented with fidelity to the program model. This is done to help improve the chances that the program effects can be replicated in other settings. This is important, but we have missed an important step: If we don’t understand what it is about the program that made it effective in the first place, then it is challenging to replicate the effects that made the program desirable in the first place.

Read the rest on What We Don’t Know about Evidence-based Programs | Trend Lines.

Absence from schools by pupils in England

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Given the relationship between risky behaviour and truancy from school the latest data on absences from the DfE should be good news.  The key points from the latest release are:

  • The overall absence rate decreased, from 5.8 per cent in 2010/11 to 5.1 per cent in 2011/12, continuing the recent downward trend.
  • The percentage of pupil enrolments classed as persistent absentees decreased, from 6.1 per cent in 2010/11 to 5.2 per cent in 2011/12, continuing the recent downward trend.

via Absence in schools, England, including pupil characteristics – Data, research and statistics.

Mr Gove’s view on evidence based policy

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Given that Michael Gove is reported as leading the charge against Minimum Unit Pricing for alcohol I thought it may be helpful to point to his views (see page 21) on the use of evidence for developing policy.

Gove says that he is a fan of evidence based policy and points to the report that Ben Goldacre produced for the Cabinet Office calling for more rigour in the evaluation of social policy.  But he adds a caveat:

it is outside my bailiwick, but there was a discussion in the last Parliament between Alan Johnson and Professor Nutt about drugs policy. The professor said, “This is the evidence for the effect of drugs”, and Alan Johnson said, “That is fine. I am the politician, I am responsible. I have taken account of it, but I take a different view.” I think it is possible to do that. On the whole I prefer to rely on the evidence.

With thanks to my Mentor colleague Liam for pointing me at the quote.

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After yesterday’s rather sombre reminder that drugs and alcohol remain amongst the highest risks for the death of young people in Western Europe some rather better news.

The annual report into drug deaths from St Georges says that deaths amongst those aged 15-24 in England appear to have dropped over the past ten years by about 60%.

The report tells us that overall the number of deaths associated with drug use in the UK has fallen by 6.7% in the last year.  They say there were 1,757 notifications of drug-related deaths occurring in 2011 in the UK and Islands.