Key health players explore solutions to UK's alarming rise in obesity, heart disease and sexually transmitted disease at The King's Fund conference

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The key players charged with tackling the UK's alarming rise in obesity, heart disease, sexually transmitted infections and drug and alcohol misuse are coming together today to address the nation's deteriorating public health and explore potential solutions.

Keynote speakers at the one day The King's Fund conference include:

  • Derek Wanless, former NatWest chief executive and Treasury adviser on NHS spending
  • Melanie Johnson, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Public Health
  • Dame Yve Buckland, Health Development Agency chair
  • Professor Sir Ian Kennedy, Healthcare Commission chair
  • Former Health Minister Lord Hunt of King's Heath.

The conference comes in the middle of the government's public health consultation and before the expected public health White Paper this autumn.

The King's Fund chief executive Niall Dickson said:

'The time for exhortation is at an end, now is the time to act. This is why The King's Fund has brought together the architects of change. It's widely acknowledged that public health is a big problem, and we're looking forward to hearing what they have to say to move the debate from talk to action.'

The conference launches a series of ideas from The King's Fund's Putting Health First programme, developed by the Fund's head of policy Anna Coote. These include:

  • New local health organisations that people could join to receive information, advice and expertise on how to stay well, as well as receiving treatment when they are ill. They would be more like 'health clubs' than traditional doctors' surgeries.
  • Stronger leadership for health improvement at all levels. Cities to have high profile, executive health commissioners, similar to 'health mayors' in some EU cities.
  • Developing advocates acting as a bridge between vulnerable communities such as elderly people in residential care and the services they need to stay well.
  • Changing incentives for doctors and health care professionals so they feel their success depends on keeping people well, not just treating them when they are ill.

Notes to editors

1. For further information and interviews, please contact Beverley Cohen in The King's Fund media and public relations office on 020 7307 2632, or Michael Moruzzi on 020 7307 2585.

2. Putting Health First: Changing attitudes, policy and behaviour, the conference title, is also the title of a programme of work from The King's Fund, responding to the government's public health initiative. This programme involves research projects, development activities and events.

3. The King's Fund is an independent charitable foundation working for better health, especially in London. We carry out research, policy analysis and development activities, working on our own, in partnerships, and through grants. We are a major resource to people working in health, offering leadership and education courses; seminars and workshops; publications; information and library services; and conference and meeting facilities.