Action needed to tackle public health concerns
Published: 21 November 2012
The Royal College of Nursing hopes this year’s Chief Medical Officer’s report will lead to firm action and investment in public health in England to tackle issues like alcohol abuse, diabetes and obesity.
Dr Peter Carter, RCN Chief Executive & General Secretary, felt many of the concerns raised by Professor Dame Sally Davies echoed those of the College.
He said: “It is shocking that the death rate from liver disease is increasing in England at a time when it is falling across Europe. Alcohol abuse is one of the greatest threats to public health in this country and it can only be tackled by robust regulation of the industry, along with a minimum unit price to prevent binge drinking.”
Dr Carter highlighted that 70 per cent of adults have at least two medical risk factors, such as smoking or diabetes.
He said: “We agree with Professor Davies’s comments that health care professionals have an important role to play in reducing this number. At the RCN we are providing training for nursing staff to help them ask the right questions at the right time about patients’ health choices.”
More needs to be done to help people make informed health decisions, Dr Carter said, which needs to involve the food and drink industries and include the proper labelling of food with health information.
Dr Carter added: “It is concerning that at a time when health professionals will need to spend more time with patients to discuss health choices, nursing posts are being cut.
“Reductions in staffing levels will mean vital preventative work will take a back seat. This will be compounded by cuts to specialist nursing posts, such as diabetes nurses, who do so much to improve patient care and actually save money in the long term through reduced hospital admissions.”