Intended for healthcare professionals


Information and intelligence for healthy populations

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 25 May 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:1226
  1. Rosalind Raine (, professor of health services research,
  2. Sylvia Godden, honorary research fellow,
  3. Martin McKee, professor of European public health
  1. Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London WC1E 6BT
  2. Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London WC1E 6BT
  3. London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London WC1E 7HT

    Important, but maybe just too ambitious

    In his report on the resources required to provide high quality health services in Britain, Sir Derek Wanless concluded that “little comprehensive information is collected on the health status of the population,”1 making it impossible to track, at local level, trends in major risk factors and in patterns of disease. England's Department of Health has now decided that something must be done to tackle this problem and is seeking views on a proposed new strategy for providing such information, Informing healthier choices: information and intelligence for healthy populations.”2

    The government should be congratulated for developing a vision in which real-time, high quality public health data will be delivered via “public health desktops” to a highly trained and integrated public health and local authority work force. It notes correctly that this will be essential for achieving the fully engaged scenario envisaged in Wanless's first report (about the long term trends affecting the health service in the UK).3

    The consultation document sets out, in broad terms, how such a vision could be realised. It recognises that creating a fully integrated system will take time and that there is a need to engage with stakeholders, highlighting the central role that will …

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