Prioritise public health, prevention and early intervention

Focusing on prevention and delivering early intervention services for parents, children and families can lead to economic savings for the NHS and wider public services, as well as supporting children and young people to enjoy good health across their life course.

For each of the State of Child Health indicators, the current trends within the data can be improved if preventative measures are put in place.

UK Government should:

  • Restore £1 billion of real-terms cuts to the public health grant for Local Authorities. Also, future investment in public health provision should increase at the same rate as NHS funding and be allocated based on population health needs.
  • Ensure adequate funding for Department of Health and Social Care to deliver the revision of the Healthy Child Programme.
  • Implement in full commitments from the prevention green paper ’Advancing our health: Prevention in the 2020s’.

We welcome the launch of Public Health Scotland and its role as an authoritative leader in ensuring a whole system approach to public health. To ensure success of the agency, Scottish Government should:

  • Provide sufficient funds to Local Authorities to support families and provide early intervention services.

Public Health Scotland should:

  • Prioritise the introduction of SNOMED-CT to improve data collection and reporting, which will ensure policy is reflective of the current climate.

‘A Healthier Wales’, the Welsh Government’s long term plan for health and social care, puts prevention of ill health at the heart of health and social care policy and services. Since its publication, progress has been made in designing policy and strategy to support children and young people to stay well.

Welsh Government should:

  • Deliver, monitor and evaluate ‘Healthy Weight: Healthy Wales’ (2020 – 2030), ‘Maternity Care in Wales: A Five Year Vision’ (2019 – 2024) and the ‘All-Wales Breastfeeding Plan’ (2019 – 2024), bringing forward the policy, legislative, funding and public health messaging commitments made in those programmes within the stated timelines.
  • Continue investment in the Healthy Child Wales Programme, to ensure all contacts with eligible children take place.

UK Government should:

  • Deliver the committed £1bn Barnett-based investment guarantee to allow the Northern Ireland Executive to deliver the New Decade, New Approach deal, which includes a committed £245m to transform public health services. The funding should also be recurrent.

We welcome intentions from the 2016 Draft Programme for Government to ensure children and young people are given the best start to life. To ensure this is provided, Northern Ireland Executive should:

  • Deliver the Department of Health’s ‘Fitter Future for All Strategy’ Revised Outcome Framework for 2019-2022, specifically:
    • Achieve the reduction percentage target for overweight and obese children and young people by prioritising the long and short term outcomes for physical activity, healthy food choices and early identification of weight issues.
    • Continue to work on creating a society in which children and young people grow up a healthy weight, by focusing on difficult issues on a cross-departmental basis and by using innovative approaches, such as collaborating with the Department of Finance’s Innovation Lab.
  • Publish a successor strategy to the Maternity Strategy (2013-2018).
  • Ensure all aspects of the Healthy Child, Healthy Future; Child Health Promotion Programme are achieved, through adequate investment and review of the framework, to maximise health from pregnancy throughout the childhood life course.
  • Ensure that funding from the New Decade, New Approach deal and the Northern Ireland Health Budget is channelled not only toward resolving crisis and maintaining provision in our health services in general, but also toward preventative services set out in the Healthy Child, Healthy Future; the Child Health Promotion Programme and real investment in reforming paediatric services.

Published March 2020