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SDC comments on the public healthy white paper - Choosing Health: Making Healthy Choices Easier

23 November 2004

The Sustainable Development Commission welcomes the new Public Health White Paper. It applauds its approach to preventing illness and reducing health inequalities, and its commitment to developing the role of the NHS as a 'good corporate citizen'.

London, 23 November 2004

Behind the media-grabbing headlines of the new Public Health White Paper, Choosing Health: making healthy choices easier, are indications that the Government is developing a more powerful, informed and holistic approach to public health in England.

The Sustainable Development Commission welcomes the White Paper and the priority given to reducing health inequalities and tackling the wider determinants of health.

Jonathon Porritt, Chair of the Sustainable Development Commission says, 'It is good to see health inequalities at the heart of the public health agenda, and an agenda that promotes both health and sustainable development. For example, encouraging children to walk or cycle to school both reduces pollution and gives children exercise. Health and sustainable development go hand in hand and it is encouraging that the Government is taking a broad-based approach to public health.'

The Commission particularly welcomes the commitment to develop the corporate role of the NHS in improving population health and promoting sustainable development. The White Paper recognises that 'NHS organisations can and must make a significant contribution to the health and sustainability of the communities they serve', and announces a new partnership between the Department of Health and the Sustainable Development Commission's Healthy Futures programme, which aims to 'develop the capacity of NHS organisations to act as good corporate citizens.' This will include guidance on food procurement, capital developments and new buildings.

An assessment model for good corporate citizenship, developed by the Sustainable Development Commission, is due to be launched in Summer 2005. It will help NHS organisations monitor progress on sustainable procurement and resource use, employment, new buildings, waste management, community engagement and transport.

The Commission also welcomes the White Paper's commitment to ensuring that NHS organisations set an example by adopting healthy and sustainable employment practices. This includes making NHS premises smoke free, using NHS resources to recruit and train people in disadvantaged communities, and promoting healthy working conditions for NHS employees.

Anna Coote, lead Commissioner for Health and Director of Health Policy at the King's Fund, says, 'Good corporate citizenship contributes to the long term sustained good health of the population, and it is excellent to see it being supported in this White Paper. The Sustainable Development Commission looks forward to a productive partnership with the Department of Health and NHS organisations - one that will help to implement these policies and ensure their effectiveness.'

For further information or comment contact: Susannah Senior Healthy Futures Program Leader, Sustainable Development Commission, Ground Floor, Ergon House, Horseferry Road, London SW1P 2AL T: 0207 238 4984 E: susannah.senior@sd-commission.org.uk www.sd-commission.org.uk

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