Matthew Limb takes a look at how the government plans to translate its public health commitments into practical benefits for local communities
The government has published plans describing how it intends to implement last year's public health white paper and create a healthier nation. The white paper, Choosing Health, launched a raft of proposals in November 2004 aimed at helping people to become healthier and fitter (see Frontline, December 1, 2004). It included ideas for tackling obesity and smoking, and to increase the take up of physical activity, especially among children. The new 'delivery plan' outlines what work will have to be done by government departments, the NHS, local councils and 'new partnerships' between industry, the voluntary sector and professional groups. It gives timetables for action programmes and places policy commitments in the context of public service agreements and local health improvement targets. The new plan stresses what action is required in schools, including investment in school sports and piloting the use of pedometers. It highlights 45 key or 'big win' interventions designed to make a major difference to improving people's health. Among these is a recommendation that all areas should have a children's trust by 2008. Children, with support from parents and health workers, will draw up 'personal health plans for life'. NHS-accredited health trainers will be rolled out across the UK from 2007, though the initiative will begin earlier in deprived areas. Lesley Smith, who chairs the Association of Paediatric Chartered Physiotherapists, said paediatric physiotherapists would need to respond and contribute to many of the issues addressed in the policy documents. 'We need to be involved in the training of health professionals and be active in the delivery of primary care services,' she said. The government says more than GBP1 billion additional funding has been made available to implement Choosing Health over the next three years. Health secretary John Reid said the delivery plan ensured the government's 'vision' would become a reality and make a difference to local communities.
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