Headlines: January 26th, 1999

The Government is in confident mood about health action zones, after a second round of meetings with the pilots trailblazing new methods of healthcare delivery.Tessa Jowell, Minister of Public Health, said: “Health action zones are in the frontline in the Government’s war on health inequalities. They have the both the opportunity and the responsibility to pioneer new ways of driving up local standards of health.

“In previous times, all too often it appeared that the Department of Health had policies for the NHS and social services on one hand, a separate policy for public health on the other. Those days are over. Now we have one, coherent and mutually reinforcing agenda.”

Her words came after a meeting at the Department of Health with representatives from each of the eleven first wave HAZs at which expected results were outlined.

One particular target set for the zones is tackling smoking, with new money for the first cessation programme of its kind.

GPs will be able to refer smokers who really want to give up for a course of specialist counselling, advice and support. Counsellors will be able to offer a week’s supply of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) – free of charge to those smokers least able to afford it.