Tory health policy to focus on food, drink and sex

Healthcare should focus on tackling obesity, sexual health and alcohol abuse, the Conservatives have said as they launch a three month consultation on public health.

To facilitate this they would replace the health secretary with a public health secretary. They would be advised by a newly formed and independent Chief Medical Officer’s Department, shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said today.

Local and regional health directors would also be granted more independence and be given their own budgets for addressing public health concerns, with an emphasis on preventative measures.

On a visit to the Princess of Wales Memorial Hospital in Ely with David Cameron, Mr Lansley said: “A transformation in Britain’s approach to public health is needed in order to improve general health and wellbeing.

“Public health is everyone’s responsibility, not just a state responsibility. Labour has failed to respond to public health challenges like the rise in obesity, sexually transmitted disease and alcohol abuse.

“We need a government which provides the right legislative and administrative framework for the delivery of public health services at the grass roots level. That’s why we are launching a consultation to improve on the statutory role in tackling public health challenges.”

Arguing the need for action on public health, Mr Lansley said the number of alcohol related deaths has increased by 40 per cent since 1997.

Labour have criticised the proposals, claiming the Conservatives have no real new ideas.

Public health minister Caroline Flint said: “This is classic Cameron’s Tories. Confronted by a serious issue the best they can come up with is changing the name of the health secretary.

“Instead of wasting time on titles, we are leading the fight against poor health.”

When last in power, the Conservatives set targets to reduce obesity to six per cent of women and eight per cent of men.

The Liberal Democrats have previously called for a dedicated minister to address childhood obesity, warning shared targets are often missed.