Public Health: an Integrated Perspective

The Health and Social Care Act 2012 comes into full force from April 2013. In many ways a controversial piece of legislation, it heralds considerable changes, not least to the governance and practice of Public Health. The changes are designed to enable the health and social care systems to adapt to the shift in the demographic profile of society and the changing prevalence of different types of disease. However, in the area of Public Health in particular, do these changes go far enough?

This paper briefly discusses some of the changes coming in and the challenges that we face as a society if we are to tackle the major limitations to our health. Regardless of the specific health issue in question, as our knowledge of health and disease grows, we are starting to understand in more detail the complex ways in which many factors can interact to contribute to our health. To tackle issues rooted in such complex interactions a combined effort is needed across areas of society which are currently distinct and, in many
cases, disconnected.

The major conceptual change that is still required to make a significant impact on health improvement in the future is to view the health of the public from an integrated perspective. Combining the knowledge and skills from a wide range of disciplines and sectors from central government right through to individual local communities will yield more progress than any one person, profession or sector working alone.

This paper therefore begins to outline some of the ways in which such an integrated perspective might be practically constructed and woven into society at all levels. It is by no means an exhaustive list of possibilities and indeed, the hope is that future thinking might follow the philosophy of the paper, adding to the practical suggestions for how this might be realised.

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