Chief Executive of Public Health England reacts with disappointment to the Governments sudden change of mind on alcohol and tobacco

In a letter addressed to everyone, Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive of Public Health England has vented his disappointment in the Government’s decision last week to take no immediate action on tobacco and alcohol death prevention. The opening extract of his letter reads;

Dear everyone,

We share and understand the disappointment across the public health family that neither standardised packaging nor minimum unit pricing are to be taken forward for the moment by Government. With tobacco and alcohol being among the nation’s top killers this is, however, hopefully a case of not now, rather than never. Both the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State have made clear that they are open to further evidence emerging. Lest we forget, nine out of ten smokers begin as children and helping them make better choices is a child protection concern. Likewise, the evidence tells us that doing all we can to reduce the ready availability of cheap, higher strength alcohol helps the youngest and the heaviest drinkers most.

(Extract from Duncan Selbie letter)

The full letter can be found here – LINK.

There comes a cros by which you wonder why the Government felt the need to totally flip their position on these issues and create disappointment to their own professional most senior Public Health Chief Executive.

I was wrong to praise David Cameron on alcohol – he has failed the public health agenda

Binge Drinking
(Photo credit: Mark Turner)

In February last year, I wrote a blog piece on this website praising the prime Minister for raising the issue of binge drinking and at the time, it was looking like David Cameron would take some strong action on the issue – LINK.

The problems with street drinking, and especially in this current amazing weather, are persisting in Neasden. I feel a minimum pricing policy would deter people from drinking so much. We have a dispersal zone in place which should be helping tackle the impact of street drinking and it is illegal anyway. However, there is a lack of police presence and patrolling in the area because of successive years of police cuts – LINK.

In addition to the failure to introduce plain package cigarettes, it looks like the Tory Liberals will also not be introducing minimum pricing for alcohol. In addition, research published in the British Medical Journey yesterday showed that the number of deaths among women born in the 1970s has “disproportionately increased” since the mid-2000s – LINK.

The Government needs to act on the alcohol health warnings that are screaming out at everyone.

Government cuts support to Carers

One of the lesser emphasized changes with disability benefits is the issue of passporting and the way that benefits interact with each other.

I was gutted after seeing this document – LINK

CA PIP document

By the Government’s own estimations, they will cut financial support to thousands of carers across the country in the transition from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

Ex-caregiver and striking wharfie joins striki...
Ex-caregiver and striking wharfie joins striking caregivers (Photo credit: Simon Oosterman)

In Brent, we have increased support to carers and work is underway to introduce a Carers Hub which will act as a single point of access for Carer support. The contract has been awarded to the Brent Carers Centre – LINK

In addition, at Monday night’s Executive, our Labour run Council decided to go against guidance issued by the Department of Health which permitted Councils to take Carer’s income into account when charging for care services.

Major Brent Adult Social Care Survey under way!

Brent Council is embarking on a major engagement exercise with people who use our care services.

We will be contacting a random selection of 1,500 Adult Social Care users and asking them to complete a short survey about the type of care they receive from us.

The postal questionnaire will ask a range of questions about all aspects of our Adult Social Care service and is completely anonymous. All responses will be treated in the strictest confidence and will be shared with the Department of Health.

Findings from the survey will be used as a basis to drive further improvements to the Council’s Social Care services so it’s really important that if you receive one of these, that you respond.

It’s been a while since we conducted a major survey like this among our customers and on this scale to really gauge what they think about our service and how we can improve it. We are very keen to get as many responses as possible to ensure we’re on the right track to meeting the needs of elderly and vulnerable residents.

The deadline for people to return their survey forms in the pre-paid envelope by 15 April 2013.

Smoking Health Harm Campaign Launched

“Every 15 cigarettes smoked causes a mutation that can lead to cancer.”

It’s that time of year when many will be thinking of new year resolutions. Many will have already looked at cutting down or stopping smoking but there will be some who will leave it a few days before they take the plunge and decide on a resolution.

The Department of Health has launched a smoking harm campaign focusing on the immediate damage to the human body from smoking a cigarette.

Diabetes among South Asian populations

Image representing Novo Nordisk as depicted in...
Image via CrunchBase

I recently attended an event hosted by Lord Patel at the House of Lords for the South Asian Community Diabetes campaign. I thought I would blog some facts that novo nordisk, the sponsors of the event unveiled.

  • People of South Asian origin are 6 times more likely to have type 2 diabetes
  • 2.9 million people in the UK have diabetes and know about it. Another 850,000 are unaware they have it.
  • Prevention is a vital investment for people who are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Early diagnosis and effective treatments are essential for people who have diabetes.
  • Up to 80% of cases of type 2 diabetes could have been delayed or prevented.
  • Diabetes costs the NHS £9 billion every year (around 10% of its budget)

Diabetes prevalence in Brent is higher than the national average and we will be focusing our efforts on this when public health partly transfers as an area of Council responsibility next year.

Quit chewing tobacco!

National Institute for Health and Clinical Exc...
National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has issued advice to South Asians in the UK to stop chewing tobacco because of its links to cancer.

In addition, the BBC has reported that “they may also contain other unhealthy ingredients such as areca nuts – a mildly euphoric stimulant, known to be addictive and cancer-causing – and slaked lime, a chemical used to make cement.”

The nicotine content in some of these brands is also higher than that contained in cigarettes, meaning that it is more addictive, and so people feel the need to have more of it.

Read the article in the BBC here – LINK

It is a huge issue among the population in Brent with us having large South Asian populations here. Many local residents are unhappy because of the disgusting red marks that spitting while or after chewing leaves on the streets. However, the impact on people’s health is also another reason to be concerned about chewed tobacco products.

National Carers Week in Brent

Caregiver joins her striking caregivers
Caregiver joins her striking caregivers (Photo credit: Simon Oosterman)

We’ve organised a series of activities for Carers in Brent to tie in with National Carers Week.

It was great to meet so many carers at Brent Town Hall yesterday where I officially launched Carers Week in Brent.

For details of what we have in store, visit this LINK

You can read the press release from Brent Council here – LINK

Brent Labour to introduce a Carers Hub!

Caregiver joins her striking caregivers
(Photo credit: Simon Oosterman)

In my first Executive meeting on 21st May 2012, I will be the responsible Member for introducing the item on inviting tenders for introducing a Carers Hub to Brent. The Carers Services Hub will provide a single point of contact for carers through the coordination and delivery of a wide range of services.

Through consultation with carers, we were told that people were frustrated with the system and the lack of a clear pathway to access help and support. Through this Carers Hub, we aim to create a single point of contact for unpaid carers and better coordinate services to them. It will also serve as a reference point for voluntary sector organisations providing support services to people in Brent.

The Carers Hub Model is endorsed by the Princess Royal Trust for Carers as a best practise model. We will be pooling our Budget with NHS Brent in order to deliver this.