Pharmacists have a key role to play in reducing health inequalities, health minister Steve Brine has told the Public Health England (PHE) annual conference.
The health minister, whose remit includes pharmacy, told the conference, being held in Birmingham, that all primary care clinicians including GPs and dentists, as well as pharmacists, can play a vital part in providing services such as smoking cessation and weight management to lessen inequalities in health across England.
Pharmacists and other clinicians were providing “great examples of how they are providing local commissioners with evidence-backed interventions that are improving public health,” Brine said.
And he praised the PHE report, ‘Pharmacy: a way forward for public health’, published last week, which set out a whole range of interventions pharmacists could provide to improve public health.
Brine warned his audience that funding within the NHS would remain tight, but he said local authorities were taking “positive action” to deal with public health despite these financial pressures.
Many councils had a “positive mindset” to improve health outcomes “whatever their budget may be,” he added.
Brine said public health decisions were best made at a local level, adding that data on local services must be “accessible, clear and, where necessary, challenged”.
Also, speaking at the conference, PHE chief executive, Duncan Selbie, said improving the public health of the population must go beyond the NHS to ensure equal access to good health.
PHE has worked with workplace health provider, Healthy Working Futures, to set out advice on how smaller businesses can improve the health and wellbeing of their employees.
Selbie also announced that the Federation of Small Businesses will publish new guidelines later this week on how businesses can improve their workers’ health.
“We can no longer see the health service as the only solution to our ills,” he said.
“This new package of support for small businesses will help them to improve the health of their staff.”