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Priorities for the National Institute for Health Protection and public health in England post-COVID
Thursday 25 March 2021  

Westminster Health Forum policy conference

Priorities for the National Institute for Health Protection and public health in England post-COVID

Morning, Thursday, 25th March 2021

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Professor John Newton, Director, Health Improvement, Public Health England

Professor Maggie Rae, President, Faculty of Public Health

Caroline Cerny, Alliance Lead, Obesity Health Alliance


Christina Marriott, Royal Society for Public Health

[full chair and speaker details]

*Please share this email with interested colleagues*

Note: fees apply for most delegates, but concessionary and complimentary places are available [subject to terms and conditions - see below].

I believe this is the first time I have contacted you. The Westminster Health Forum is a division of Westminster Forum Projects, an impartial and cross-party organisation which has no policy agenda of its own. Forums operated by Westminster Forum Projects enjoy considerable support from within Parliament and Government.

I’m inviting you to this conference, which will discuss key developments and priorities for the future of public health in England.

It will bring together stakeholders with key policymakers to discuss:

  • the role of public health in meeting challenges posed by the pandemic
  • priorities for the National Institute for Health Protection
  • changing policy approaches to tackling obesity and health inequalities

[Book Online]

The context for discussion: [jump to the agenda summary]

  • Government creates new National Institute for Health Protection - bringing together PHE, Test and Trace and the Joint Biosecurity Centre to take forward the response to the pandemic and improve public health protection and resilience against future infectious diseases, and due to be in operation by the spring
  • the Population Health Improvement Stakeholder Advisory Group - established to look into the future for health improvement functions normally carried out by PHE, ways that these can be strengthened and the most appropriate structure and organisations to take these functions forward nationally and locally
  • the Tackling Obesity strategy - announced earlier this year which includes measures to improve the food environment, support healthy choices and healthy weight management
  • COVID-19: review of disparities in risks and outcomes - PHE finding links between people with health conditions such as obesity and diabetes, as well as those from some ethnic minority backgrounds, and having increased risk of poor health outcomes from COVID-19
  • the NHS Long Term Plan - including ambitions for preventative healthcare and the establishment of integrated care systems, population health management
  • Health Equity In England: The Marmot Review 10 Years On - which found that health improvement has stalled and that people living in deprived areas spend longer in poor health, with the gap between well-off and deprived areas growing
  • the Advancing Our Health: Prevention in the 2020s green paper - and ongoing work on preventative healthcare following

[Book Online]

Key areas for discussion: [jump to the agenda summary]

  • the National Institute for Health Protection and the future for health improvement:
    • the role of the NIHP - how should the Institute approach its responsibilities in:
      • COVID-19 - providing the surveillance, monitoring, research and guidance to manage the outbreak
      • the long term - preparedness and resilience to future health crises
    • goals and implementation:
      • leadership - how to provide the continuity and momentum required to maintain wider efforts in health improvement
      • joint working - ways in which the Institute can play an effective part in the wider systems of public health
      • resources - assessing the capacity and capabilities required for the institute of perform its functions
    • organisation:
      • health improvement functions - their future, and putting in place the appropriate structures and organisations for them to be carried out
      • governance - establishing clear responsibility and accountability structures within the Institute and ensuring transparency
    • focus:
      • balancing priorities - both new and emerging threats as well as the public health issues that were already in place pre-COVID
      • implementation strategies - what a system looks like that achieves this and improves health outcomes, taking account of both local and national requirements
      • prevention - how efforts can be maintained and become an integral part of health protection and improvement in the future
  • public health commissioning:
    • through the pandemic - looking at programmes and services including maintaining national immunisation and screening
    • into the future - priorities for advancing programmes, supporting long-term transformation and recovery from the pandemic
  • tackling obesity:
    • policy developments - implications of the Government’s new strategy for the future of public health, with a comparatively more interventionist approach in improving the food environment
    • key measures - including mandatory calorie labelling in the out of home sector, restrictions on high fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) in-store promotions and a watershed for HFSS TV advertisements
    • COVID-19:
      • increased risk - health conditions such as obesity and diabetes found to be significant factors underlying worse outcomes when contracting COVID-19
      • policy impact - has the pandemic caused a shift in approach to tackling obesity and supporting people maintain a healthy weight
      • implications - what this means for both obesity policy and wider public health policy moving forward
  • inequalities and local approaches to public health:
    • supporting local innovation - linking national public health priorities with coalface initiatives, and what is needed to build upon them and help to advance policy ambitions for prevention
    • central government role - priorities for clarity on responsibility and accountability for the public health agenda, funding and resources, and what further support is needed at a national level
    • levelling up - public health inequalities in the context of this central plank of government policy with COVID-19 and Marmot highlighting the variation being experienced around the country
    • integrated care systems - how to maximise the opportunities they provide for public health and tackling inequalities by taking a localised and place-based approach in line with the LTP
    • data and technology - latest developments and the next steps for utilising population health methods to inform local systems in their approach to improving public health
    • lessons from the pandemic - with the response requiring local responses and approaches with communities, systems and services coming together to provide support, what can be done to harness the positive outcomes from public health during the pandemic

[Book Online]


***Full-scale policy conference taking place online*** [further details]


The agenda:

  • Priorities for public health in England and maintaining momentum for health improvement post-COVID
  • The role of the National Institute for Health Protection in the future of public health in England and coordinating pandemic response efforts
  • Next steps for public health commissioning
  • Assessing prospects for the Government’s new approach to obesity policy
  • Key national priorities to achieve effective local public health - funding, accountability and prevention
  • Taking forward local approaches to public health and health inequalities - lessons from the pandemic, using data and technology, system working and community engagement
  • Next steps for improving public health in local communities and recovering from the impact of COVID-19

[jump to full agenda] [Book Online]

Extra information:



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