I am Chair of the Cabinet Committee on Public Health (DA(PH)). Its terms of reference are to co-ordinate and monitor the implementation of the Government’s policies to improve public health and reduce health inequalities.
Co-ordination across Government has been necessary to address a range of public health issues, including reducing smoking rates, tackling obesity, reducing teenage pregnancy rates, promoting sport and physical activity, developing Healthy Schools, and tackling drug and alcohol abuse and misuse. Owing to these developments, our reform programme and the fact that 10 years of economic prosperity, we have been able to treble the health budget in cash terms between 1996-97 and 2007-08. This has allowed us to employ over 79,000 more nurses and over 36,000 more doctors, significantly to reduce waiting lists (the average wait for inpatient treatment is now 6.4 weeks) and to regenerate the NHS estate (with 150 new hospitals open, under construction or in procurement).