Headlines: February 9th, 1998

The twin aims of the Government’s new health strategy are described as: “Extending years of fit and healthy life for us all and tackling inequalities in health.” Proposals for action to reduce preventable death in four major areas are set out in a Green Paper A New Contract for Health which envisages a close partnership between Government local services and individuals. The proposals harmonise closely with the strategy for welfare reform, which tackles social exclusion, seeks to rebuild communities, and raise standards of education.The 90-page Green Paper identifies key settings for action: healthy schools, focusing on children; healthy workplaces, focusing on adults; and healthy neighbourhoods, focusing on older people. Schools, for example, will be able to access a website, Wired for Health, giving teachers and children the opportunity to get facts on health and so provide a resource for project work.

The health strategy sets out four goals to be achieved by 2010:

reduced death by heart disease and strokes amongst people under 65 by at least a third (from 66.2 per 100,000 population to 44.1 per 100,000 population)

reduced accidents by at least a fifth (from 20 per 100 persons to 16 per 100 persons)

reduced the deaths from cancer amongst people under 65 by at least a fifth (from 81 per 100,000 to 64.8 per 100,000)

reduced deaths from suicide and undetermined injury by at least a sixth (from 9.2 per 100,000 to 7.6 per 100,000).

The strategy provides for health improvement programmes which will guide local areas in contributing to national targets and inform their priority setting. It is proposed that health authorities will take the lead but local authority involvement will play an important part as will the input of voluntary agencies and private businesses.

The Health Action Zone programme, announced earlier, with funding of £30m for up to 10 zones, will target health inequalities. The programme will bring together Health Authorities, Local Authorities, community groups, local businesses, and voluntary groups. There will also be Lottery funding for Healthy Living Centres, which will not follow any national model, but be tailored to local community needs.

The Paper will be widely distributed and extensive consultation is expected. A White Paper setting out a definitive strategy is due in the summer.

Frank Dobson, Secretary of State for Health has announced a London-wide health strategy, following the report of the panel chaired by Sir Leslie Turnberg, then President of the Royal College of Physicians. It envisages a single NHS Regional Office for London, additional investment of £140m in services for London over the lifetime of this Parliament, including an extra £30m allocation in the coming financial year.