It is my pleasure to provide a foreword to this important and timely report which emphasises the need for collective action focused on improving health and wellbeing for all of Scotland's people.
I am grateful to the Public Health Review Group, and Dr Hamish Wilson as Chair, for the work undertaken in the preparation of this report, as well as to everyone that has supported and engaged in the review process that informed this report. This Public Health Review Report provides a comprehensive picture of the current public health endeavour in Scotland - the strengths and successes, and the challenges and areas for improvement. The report reiterates the breadth of public health activity, covering both physical and mental wellbeing, undertaken by a range of professionals across the NHS, Local Authorities, the third sector, and through communities and by individuals. All of this activity goes towards creating a healthier population, addressing health inequalities and reducing the potential for ill-health. The National Conversation on Creating a Healthier Scotland has been finding out what really matters to people and their families in terms of improving health and living healthier lives, as well as the future of health and social care services. The Conversation will take account of the engagement and findings of this review of public health.
We have had a number of successes in Scotland, and on some issues we are recognised as leading the way. But there is clearly more that needs to be done as the issues we face are complex, combining an ageing population; enduring inequalities; and changes in the pattern of disease requiring action to address the determinants of population health, as well as particular health priorities. We need to be ready to respond effectively to all these challenges.
The Review Group's recommendations provide a clear basis for further work to strengthen and re-focus the vital public health function in Scotland for the future. Thinking about our structures and public health leadership will be an important activity for Government in the coming months. I welcome and support the proposal for a single Public Health Strategy for Scotland, setting out the wider population health priorities and the contribution that many partners can make to tackle these challenges. Such a document would be a significant parallel strategic statement to the National Clinical Strategy.
Supporting and developing our multi-disciplinary public health workforce, which is recognised as extending beyond the NHS, and ensuring effective partnership working across the public and third sectors on population health are also vitally important.
The recommendations within this report provide clarity on the steps we need to take in Scotland and the next phase is to work with stakeholders to take forward implementation. We can achieve the best use of our resources and our collective endeavour in Scotland so that we have a positive and lasting impact on creating a healthier Scotland.
Email: Gareth Brown