In the run up to the General Election, RSPH has issued an open letter to all standing Political Parties outlining the most pressing public health challenges that any future Government should commit to, in order to champion the public’s health.

These include:

  • The decriminalisation of possession of illegal drugs and a public health approach to drugs policy more generally;
  • The use of health and wellbeing measures alongside GDP in Government Budgets;
  • The roll-out of minimum unit pricing for alcohol to the rest of the UK;
  • The extension of the sugar levy on soft drinks manufacturers to other products high in sugar;
  • A mandatory targets-based framework for salt, to support the 7g per day target.

In this document, RSPH identify that while high quality healthcare will always remain a priority, an individual’s wellbeing is largely the result of wider determinants. These include the social and environmental forces that shape people’s lives, such as work, housing and advertising – factors that between them are estimated to account for 50% of an individual’s health and wellbeing, compared with the 30% attributed to behaviours, and just 10% attributed to direct medical care. The document also calls on future Governments to implement measures to tackle the digital determinants of health.

Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive of RSPH, said: “In the run-up to the next general election, we urge that all political parties champion the public’s health. Today, the NHS is under pressure to meet increasing demand, while inequalities in our society continue to plague health outcomes. We need a renewed focus on prevention, ensuring that people don’t become ill in the first place and have healthier, longer lives.

Beyond simply reversing years of devastating funding cuts to local authorities, we are calling on the next government to be ambitious and make significant progress on key issues such as obesity, alcohol, drugs and mental health. This requires longer-term thinking, that places population wellbeing at the heart of all budget decision making in all government departments.”