People in prison experience a much higher burden of chronic physical and mental health problems than the general population. This is for a variety of reasons but one of these is because of high smoking rates. The final two prisons in England have now implemented their smoke free policies, supported by PHE and NHS England, bringing the total number to 102, making the largest smoke-free prison estate in Western Europe. This is a fabulous public health achievement by the prison service and we published a blog this week on successfully delivering smokefree prisons and wider work on prison health.
Today we published an evaluation of a healthier vending machines trial carried out across Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. Much of our consumption behaviour is influenced by our environment. This includes hospitals, which have a key role in the food and drink options provided to staff, visitors and of course patients. The study shows that by increasing the availability of healthier products and placing them in more prominent positions, it is possible to encourage people to choose healthier options while remaining commercially viable. This approach has since been rolled out across 105 hospitals, and is an excellent example of behavioural science in action. This is part of our wider work on tackling obesity and helping people make healthier choices, particularly by consuming less sugar. You can read more in our blog.
PHE works in partnership with NHS England, the Department of Health and Social Care and Cancer Research UK on our Be Clear on Cancer programme, raising public awareness of the signs and symptoms of different cancers and encouraging people with symptoms to go to their GP without delay. This is a very effective campaign, based on world-class data, evidence and rigorous consumer research about what works. Yesterday we launched our latest phase focused on bladder and kidney cancers. For both of these cancers a key symptom is blood in pee but only 16% of those most at risk check the colour of their urine every time they go to the toilet. The simple message is to check your pee and even if you see blood just once, visit your doctor. The campaign will run until late September, and you can learn more here.
Since its creation in 2014, the Well North programme has been backing community entrepreneurs, breaking down traditional boundaries, tackling social isolation and boosting education opportunities in communities across the North of England. Their 2018 progress report describes the brilliant network that this programme has created, allowing challenging conversations between the NHS, local authorities and the business, charity and voluntary sectors to produce innovative and flexible ideas to ultimately better the lives of local people. At the heart of all this is a powerful effort to reduce health inequalities and the report is well worth a read.
And finally, until measles is eliminated from all countries, cross-border transmission of cases can occur so we need to work closely with each other and share expertise and data. This week we have published a joint press release with the Italian National Health Institute reminding people that vaccination is the best possible means of protection against this sometimes deadly illness. You can read this here.
Read more: publichealthmatters.blog.gov.uk