Views And Reviews

From the public health conference: The population's health must be paramount

BMJ 1994; 308 doi: (Published 25 June 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;308:1718
  1. L Beecham

    In his first year as chairman of the Committee for Public Health Medicine and Community Health Dr Stephen Watkins has tried to ensure that the population's health has been at the forefront of the BMA's discussions. Reporting to the annual conference of public health medicine and community health, which he also chaired, on 14 June, Dr Watkins said that the commitment to the health of the population was the link between the two groups at the conference. The service could be delivered only to a community so it was important that units of health service administration were comparable with local communities, hence the fight for coterminosity between health and local authorities. The chairman said that he found it strange that ministers shared the concern at the loss of common boundaries and then signed orders endorsing authorities which were not coterminous. Dr Watkins believed that the alternative bureaucratic method of commissioning care that was envisaged by some people would fail. This entailed setting a few numerical indicators to be achieved. But not everything that was important was measurable. If it was the data did not exist and if they did they were wrong.

    The chairman referred to the Tavistock initiative set up as a result of the chief medical officer's visit to the BMA council in May (21 May, p 1322). Dr Kenneth Calman had asked the profession to put forward its own proposals for the future of the NHS and the profession's role. Dr Watkins hoped that the project would be successful because over the past few years each craft committee had made proposals to the government and they had been ignored. The chairman of council, Dr Sandy Macara, agreed that the project was a challenge and he hoped that the profession would respond in an appropriate way. The first …

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