Notes from the field of public involvement

Tuesday, 16 November 2004

White Paper Whitewash

Choosing Health, the Government’s public health vision has finally appeared.


But big issues and joined up ones have been ducked, so look in vain for robust tobacco control or diet and exercise approaches. Whatever happened to the idea that one of the primary duties of a state was to protect and improve the health of the people? Even Disraeli understood that one. The mantras of “informed choice”, “personalisation” and “working together” won’t add up to public health improvement. What’s missing is improving the capacity of people to get involved with and then take control of initiatives to improve their own health and that of their communities. Before “choice” can be real, there must be capacity to choose, and that’s lacking in many places for many people. Instead of the wheeze of NHS trainers proposed in the white paper, maybe Government should deploy an army of community development workers instead. That could make a real difference in narrowing health inequalities from the bottom up.

Andrew Craig | Send feedback