Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Health and Social Services
I am publishing a Green Paper to gather views as to whether we need a Bill regarding the health of the people of Wales. This meets a key action in the Programme for Government, to:
“consult on the need for a Public Health Bill to place statutory duties on bodies to consider public health issues.”
There has been an increased emphasis placed on public health issues in recent years and this has been reflected in a number of important policies as set out in documents including Together for Health, Our Healthy Future and Fairer Health Outcomes For All. The publication of this Green Paper is a natural continuation of our commitment to improve and protect the health of the population of Wales.
A great deal has already been achieved to improve and protect the health of our people. However, overall health in Wales does not fully match our aspirations. In particular, there is an urgent need to do more to prevent ill health occurring in the first place and to tackle health inequalities. This Green Paper starts a wider ‘big health debate’ about whether introducing new legislation would be an effective way of making further progress in key areas such as these, with the overall aim of achieving a healthier and fairer society. It provides us with a valuable opportunity to explore the role legislation could have in helping us achieve our overall aspirations for the health and wellbeing of people in Wales and in addressing some of the complex challenges to health which we face in the 21st Century.
The purpose of this Green Paper is to collect views about whether a Bill dealing with these issues is needed in Wales. It is not intended as a consultation on a detailed legislative proposal but instead signals the first step in the potential development of new legislation. In the Green Paper, we outline some early ideas and give people the opportunity to suggest alternative approaches to legislation. We intend to stimulate discussion and start a wider public debate about health. Responses to the consultation will be used to inform further work before decisions are taken about whether a Bill is required and, if so, what it should seek to achieve.
This consultation will end on 20 February 2013 and I will be considering the responses in the Spring before determining the next steps. I will ensure Members are kept informed of progress in developing this work.
The Green Paper can be found online.