Health & NHS
OHID has mission to level up health disparities
The Office for Health Improvement and Disparities has been unveiled in England, with a focus on improving the nation's health and "levelling up health disparities".
With professional leadership provided by the chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, it is one of two new organisations – the other being the UK Health Security Agency – that replaces Public Health England from October 1.
As part of the Department of Health, OHID will be responsible for national health improvement, prevention of poor health, and tackling health disparities. It will build scientific evidence, develop policy, and deliver core services around:
- healthy weight, healthy diet and physical activity
- improving the health of children and families
- smoking, addiction and the health of vulnerable groups.
OHID will also work with the NHS and local government to improve access to the services which detect and act on health risks and conditions, as early as possible. It will support the delivery of national and regional priorities for prevention and health inequalities and ”ensure a joined-up approach to public health”.
The government says OHID marks a distinct shift in focus “in addressing the unacceptable health disparities that exist across the country to help people live longer, healthier lives and reduce the pressure on the health and care system”.
40 new diagnostic centres to be set up
At the same time the government has announced that 40 new community diagnostic centres will open across England in a range of settings from local shopping centres to football stadiums, to provide a ‘one stop shop’ checks, scans and tests.
The centres will be backed by a £350 million investment from government to provide around 2.8 million scans in the first full year of operation. The government hopes the centres will achieve earlier diagnoses for patients and a reduction in waiting times by diverting patients away from hospitals.
The centres will begin providing services over the next six months, with some already up and running, and will be fully operational by March 2022.
The centres are one of the recommendations from Professor Sir Mike Richards, the first NHS national cancer director, who conducted a review of diagnostic services as part of the NHS Long Term Plan, published last year.