The Queen's Speech -
New Health Initiatives for 2005
Today's Queen's speech holds the promise
of a wide range of health initiatives for 2005, going well
beyond what is promised in the recent White Paper. The government
intends to bring forward measures on:
Drugs were conspicuously absent from the White Paper on public
health and our concern is that the criminal justice agenda
will be pursued to the exclusion of a public health approach.
We will continue to advocate the latter when detailed proposals
emerge next year.
The Society contributed to the consultation on this legislation
earlier in the year. There is much in it that we welcome -
our major concern is that local authorities should have adequate
funding streams to resource their new powers.
In our response to the 'Choosing Health' consultation we strongly
supported the view that feeling secure is a vital element
in people's well-being. We advocated measures to encourage
local authorities to make wider use of anti-social behaviour
orders to help tackle activities which have a considerable
impact on public health.
This is long overdue, as we have argued in the past. We look
forward to robust measures to ensure employees and the public
are properly protected.
The Society believes that the policy debate about mental health
has for too long been dominated by the public safety agenda
and acute cases. We live in a society where many people face
chronic problems of well-being and the White Paper goes some
way towards addressing these more effectively.
The school run is a major contributor to road congestion and
urban pollution, as well as having an impact on the physical
activity levels of many children. There are interesting schemes
being piloted at a local level to provide alternatives to
the ubiquitous mum in the SUV, and we look forward to some
constructive proposals at national level which build on these.
It is thought that the government intends to toughen up measures
against using a phone while driving. We advocated making this
an offence and were pleased when, a year ago, it became one.
Since then the enforcement of the new law has not been at
all satisfactory in our view and we be looking for a considerable
strengthening of the punishments for this kind of dangerous
The BSE outbreak has reminded us all that health problems
in animals can sometimes have an impact on human health. The
illegal bushmeat trade brings large quantities of carcases
into the human food chain from Africa every week and there
is no means of assessing the health risks this carries; there
is also an underground market for illegally slaughtered meat,
often involving unhealthy animals. We will continue to advocate
improved animal welfare measures where these have a direct
bearing on human health.
Taken together with the measures headlined
in the White paper 'Choosing Health: Making Healthy Choices
Easier' the government will have a very full programme of
health-related measures for the first half of next year. Early
expectations that the legislative programme would be completely
dominated by Home Office security measures have not been borne
out. We will continue to advocate policies which promote public
health across the whole range of government legislation and
look forward to another busy year in 2005.
The Royal Society for the Promotion of Health
is the largest and longest-established public health organisation
in the UK. We were founded in 1876 to promote joined up thinking
between health professionals and we are a networking organisation
that cuts across traditional professional boundaries.
23 November 2004