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Committee (5th Day)

Part of Health and Social Care Bill – in the House of Lords at 6:00 pm on 14th November 2011.

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Photo of Baroness Williams of Crosby Baroness Williams of Crosby Liberal Democrat 6:00 pm, 14th November 2011

My Lords, one of the most interesting aspects of the proposals in this Bill is the greater status to be given to public health. I think we all recognise that for some years public health has been something of a Cinderella in the medical establishment. To have public health lifted, as it should be, on to board representation seems to me absolutely central in our attempt to put greater accent on prevention, education and information; there are future amendments by some of my noble friends on some of those issues. I wish to say very briefly that I think that this amendment is absolutely right. It is crucial that public health recognition is given at board level, and I hope we can echo that in having it also represented in the clinical commissioning groups as they emerge.

One other question to raise in relation to public health, which we have been considering very carefully, is how we deal with chronic illness. Chronic illness is obviously not unrelated to lifestyles and life behaviour, so here again, raising the influence of public health in the attempt to bring about a healthier lifestyle among our fellow citizens and ourselves is absolutely essential. I therefore completely agree with what has been said by the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, and the noble Lord, Lord Warner, in moving this amendment: that it is vital that public health be represented at the highest level.