Mark Drakeford, Minister for Health and Social Services
A Green Paper to collect views about whether a Public Health Bill is needed in Wales was published on 29 November 2012 for a twelve week consultation, which ended on 20 February 2013. I am today issuing a summary report of the responses to the consultation.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who provided responses to the Green Paper. I have been encouraged by the number of responses received from across different sectors and members of the public, which I believe demonstrates a strong desire to consider all the tools available to us for continuing to improve the health and wellbeing of the people of Wales.
The consultation sought to collect views from a broad range of stakeholders and the public about whether introducing new legislation would be an effective way of addressing some of the main health challenges facing Wales. The purpose was therefore to collect general views rather than to consult on detailed legislative proposals. The consultation was facilitated by a ‘Big Health Debate’ to consider the role of legislation as well as alternative approaches for improving public health.
In order to aid discussion, the Green Paper was structured around four early ideas for areas which could potentially be explored further. These areas were:
- A duty on Welsh Ministers to consider health issues in policy making;
- A duty on a range of bodies to reduce health inequalities;
- Requirements on bodies to strengthen the emphasis given to the prevention of poor health; and
- Strengthening community action around health protection and health improvement.
However, it was also emphasised that these ideas were intended to start discussion around the issues, and others were also welcomed.
We received a very encouraging response to the consultation, with 371 replies received from across a number of different sectors. A clear majority of respondents were supportive of the general policy direction and subjects explored in the Green Paper. There was particular support for achieving a ‘Health in All Policies’ approach in Wales, in order to address the various factors across policy areas which can impact on overall health and wellbeing. A number of responses also offered more general views or focused on particular areas of public health, such as tackling tobacco use or addressing obesity. Overall, the responses provided a wealth of comments, ideas and suggestions about the role legislation could have in improving and protecting health in Wales.
A Green Paper consultation summary report is available online.
I will continue to reflect on the consultation responses as we consider the next steps in this important work. I will ensure Members are kept informed of progress.