Leading Health Experts Slate Government’s New Obesity Strategy

Leading health experts have criticised the recently published obesity strategy of the government, suggesting that incumbent Prime Minister Theresa May has failed her first major test in the job.

The strategy intended to address the obesity epidemic in Britain had already been delayed significantly, and when it was ultimately released the document met with considerable criticism over perceived omissions.

In particular, the failure of the document to restrict the marketing of unhealthy food, with a reliance on voluntary action from food manufacturers, was considered a particular sticking point.

Additionally, some experts have suggested that the final document was even watered down significantly from earlier versions of the strategy.

Prof Graham MacGregor, an NHS cardiovascular expert and chair of Action on Sugar, had observed a version of the document drawn up by David Cameron’s government, and asserts that the final release is significantly diminished in severity from this earlier text.

MacGregor spoke strongly on the consequences of the published strategy.

“She [May] came in saying ‘We are going to look after the poor and the socially deprived’ and immediately shown she’s absolutely not interested. This is a huge crisis facing the UK: we are the most obese nation in Europe; it’s going to bankrupt the NHS. Farcically, she’s gone backwards even on Cameron. It’s a national scandal. It’s been watered down in the last three weeks. To release it [while May is] on holiday when neither Jeremy Hunt nor her are there, it augurs very badly for her as prime minister. If she continues like that it’s [going to be] a disaster.”

And Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, Sir Harpal Kumar, who headed up NHS England’s cancer taskforce, accused the government of folding to lobbyists from the food and drink industry.

Commenting on the issue, Kumar suggested that the Prime Minister had completely failed in her responsibility to address the health of the nation.

“The new prime minister entered Downing Street with a pledge to tackle health inequality and to champion the needs of the individual in preference to the ‘mighty’. Obesity has a disproportionate impact on the poorest in our society … The new government faced its first test of this pledge with a chance to address inequality and to protect the next generation from diseases like cancer. This plan fails that test. There can be little doubt that preventing cancer has fallen victim to economic scaremongering and industry lobbying, despite the fact that obesity costs UK society almost £1bn every week.”

A Department of Health spokesman responded to the criticism, and indicated that monitoring the success of the strategy would be an ongoing process.

“Our obesity plan is world-leading, with more far-reaching and comprehensive measures than anything pursued by any other western government. Nevertheless, we will measure progress carefully and do not rule out further action if results are not seen.”

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London Conference Discusses Latest in Agile

A London conference will examine how to create, implement and sustain Agile in public sector organisations.

The 13th annual Agile Business Conference (ABC 2015) will focus on ensuring that an Agile environment can be sustained across an organisation.

Due to be held in the city of London on the 6th and 7th October, the conference will be aimed at public sector directors, senior managers, CEOs, CIOs, IT directors, senior programme and project managers and other change managers.

The conference comes in the context of continuous change within the NHS, with organisations forced to balance the complex demands of a contemporary health service with often diminishing budgets.

It was before this backdrop that the Agile approach to healthcare was first defined and introduced, presenting a reaction against traditional, heavyweight, regulated and regimented methods.

As a fundamental part of Agile is embracing adaptability and evolution, it is considered to be able to respond more rapidly and appropriately to a continually changing organisational environment.

Thus, the London conference will be exploring how it is possible for public sector organisations to introduce and sustain an Agile environment.

This will be examined not merely in relation to individual projects, but also regarding how an entire organisation can be structured around Agile principles.

The two-day programme of presentations, workshops and interactive sessions is intended to benefit not only those who manage programmes, but also individuals who influence corporate strategy.

With a location in the heart of the city of London at 155 Bishopsgate, ABC 2015 will be readily accessible to both local residents and those travelling from further afield.

Prominent at the conference will be a keynote speech by Stephen Denning, former Director of Knowledge Management at the World Bank, who also has a number of prestigious business accolades on his CV.

Denning will be discussing the ongoing transformation from hierarchical bureaucracy to the radically different staff management practices currently taking place.

Speaking about the forthcoming conference, Mary Henson, chief executive of the DSDM Consortium, which organises ABC together with conference partner UNICOM, stated:

“ABC 2015 recognises just how much Agile has now left the margins and become a mainstream management approach for public sector departments and organisations of all sizes. We will be focusing on the sharp end of this, looking at the challenges in introducing and implementing Agile across the organisation and, so important, the challenges of keeping an organisation truly Agile.”

Full details on the Agile conference are available by clicking here. ABC 2015 will also be sending out regular tweets during the event at ABC 2015.

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Cameron sets out new strategy to fight dementia

Prime Minister David Cameron has set out a new strategy for fighting dementia.

“Britain will expand its efforts to combat dementia over the next five years” said Mr Cameron as he announced ‘Challenge on Dementia 2020’ – his long-term strategy for boosting research, improving care and raising public awareness about the condition.

A growing problem, in 10 years it is expected there will be one million people living with dementia in the UK. Worldwide, the number of people living with dementia is estimated at 44 million people (this figure is projected to double by 2030).

Announcing the plan today (21 February 2015), the Prime Minister said: “Dementia is one of the greatest challenges of our lifetime, and I am proud that we are leading the world in fighting it.

“Because of the growing strength of our economy, we can invest in research and drug development, as well as public understanding, so we defeat this terrible condition and offer more hope and dignity for those who suffer.

“That way, we can help make Britain a country that offers security in retirement for all.

Challenge on Dementia 2020 will see the UK government invest over £300 million into UK research and medical innovation. Alongside this, an international dementia institute will be established in England within 5 years, helping to make the UK a world leader in fighting dementia.

Additionally, members of the public will be able to take part in free sessions in schools, shops, church halls or their own workplaces – dementia-friendly communities composed of ‘Dementia Friends.’

The Prime Minister’s sees his new strategy as a key component in maintaining the UK’s status as a world leader in the fight against dementia.


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