Public Health White Paper 'Listening to you - Your health matters'. Samaritans' response to consultation

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The ‘Listening to you – Your health matters’ White Paper set out a series of proposals for legislation to help further improve and protect people’s health and wellbeing in Wales. The proposals covered a range of public health issues, including action to reduce the harms to health caused by smoking, alcohol misuse and obesity.

In our response we welcomed the intention to legislate in this area.

Samaritans want to see a Bill which is broader in its scope and encompasses public mental health and wellbeing.

The main points from our consultation response are summarised here:

  1. As set out in the Green Paper, we see that an important purpose of a Public Health Bill should be to place statutory duties on bodies to consider public health issues.
  2. The 2012 Green Paper offered the approaches adopted by Sweden and Norway as examples. It said that their Acts ‘both make a strong symbolic statement about the fundamental importance of a population-wide effort to improve health, and entrench particular requirements for action to do so.’ We support this dual approach and would like to see both a strong statement and specific measures as part of a new Public Health Bill.
  3. We would want to see more attention paid to mental health and wellbeing in the Bill and would wish to see strengthened references to mental health. Samaritans believes that the term ‘health’, as used in the Bill, should be explicitly defined to mean both physical and mental health and wellbeing.
  4. Any new Public Health Bill should recognise that suicide is a significant public health issue in Wales and one which can be partly addressed through reducing health inequalities. 
  5. Samaritans would want a new Public Health Bill to explicitly refer to efforts to reduce suicide. We would like to see a commitment to ‘mainstreaming’ suicide and self harm prevention across other policy areas including strands of work tackling inequalities.
  6. The new Bill should acknowledge the importance of public health measures to reduce child deaths, including deaths by probable suicide.
  7. Samaritans welcomes the outlined proposals for building community assets for health. However there is opportunity for the scope of this section to be wider.
  8. Samaritans supports in principle policies which have been shown to reduce alcohol related harm.

Click here to read our full response to the consultation.