Does Wales need a public health bill?
19 February 2013
As the Welsh Government asks the people of Wales for their views on whether the country needs new legislation to improve and protect our health, a Cardiff academic has offered his thoughts.
In an editorial for the British Medical Journal, Dr Adam Fletcher, School of Social Sciences says that Wales' first public health bill could be a world-leading initiative and open the door to a radical new approach to improving the health of people.
The Welsh Assembly's Green Paper discusses how the government could better address challenges such as preventing ill health and tackling health inequalities.
Dr Fletcher argues that one strategy proposed by the Welsh Government – to make it statutory for all major social policies to be "health-proofed" across areas such as education, social care, housing, transport and urban planning – gives Wales the chance to lead the way in the UK and internationally. He also offers his views on how such an approach could be implemented and evaluated.
With inequalities in health and the economic costs of the NHS in Wales both increasing, Dr Fletcher concludes: "The Welsh green paper opens the door to a far more radical approach than the 'nudge' inspired English public health strategy. Doing nothing is still an option at this stage, but the Welsh government should ask itself not whether it can afford to take health concerns into account across all policy areas, but rather whether it can afford not to."
Working towards "health in all policies" at a national level: Wales as a world-leader? is available in full online here:http://www.bmj.com/content/346/bmj.f1096
The Welsh Government's consultation ends on 20th February 2013.