Mark Drakeford, Minister for Health and Social Services
I welcome the publication of the first Annual Report of Dr Ruth Hussey in her role as the Chief Medical Officer for Wales, addressing the period 2012-13.
Like its predecessors, the report covers a great deal of ground. There is analysis of recent issues and trends such as the measles outbreaks and the emerging problem of liver disease, a review of some wider issues such as the development of antimicrobial resistance, the impact of climate change and detail on the current state of health and the NHS in Wales.
The document contains a number of specific recommendations and indicates that future reports will return to consider these in due course.
It includes five chapters covering issues such as trends in health, the role of health protection and preventative actions and issues facing the NHS, and each chapter includes specific recommendations. The chapters include sections that address aspects of health in new ways. In recent years there has been much discussion of wellbeing. The report emphasises this and draws attention to the link between physical and mental health. It also highlights the importance of physical activity in improving physical and mental health.
Another important relationship discussed is between health and the economy. The impact of the economy on health is well understood. The report goes further in discussing the latent potential of the health and social care sector as a generator of jobs and prosperity, including such elements as biomedical research and innovation, the leisure industry, social care, catering and tourism. Looking further at this is one of the overall conclusions of the report.
The overall message is that although in many ways health in Wales is improving, problems persist and significantly the gap between the health of the most deprived and least deprived communities does not appear to be closing. Accordingly, there are other overall recommendations on how to tackle that. One addresses continuing action on healthy behaviours, particularly to cut tobacco use and alcohol misuse, reduce obesity and increase levels of physical activity.
In order to improve health overall, the report states that there needs to be a wide recognition that making Wales healthy is a shared responsibility. Everyone needs to take action accordingly across the community, individuals, health professionals and Welsh Government. I support this. I strongly believe that there is a shared responsibility and at present that is not widely understood. I am sure that we in Government can do more to create the social and physical environment for good health, but the people of Wales can do more to improve and protect their own health and that of their children. We can help them with advice and information but there must also be a wider willingness to take action.
The report highlights the importance of creating a resilient and adaptable health service in Wales which can respond to the challenges of the 21st century. To do this the report states that it is essential the Welsh Government and NHS Wales work with the public to develop the right services. Co-production is a vital tool for developing a better NHS in Wales and I am supportive of Dr Hussey’s recommendations.
I commend this report to you as a source of information and analysis of the state of health in Wales and what needs to be done for the future.