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The future of public health report series

Building a fairer and sustainable system for the UK

Public health challenges are complex requiring cross functional targeted, approaches to tackle them, alongside a deep understanding of the needs of defined populations. COVID-19 has shown the UK to be an unequal society and has exposed a crisis in public health services, including inadequate funding, variations in workforce capability and capacity and a need for clarity over roles responsibilities and accountabilities.

The pandemic has raised awareness of public health’s role in health protection, ill health prevention as well as health promotion and prolonging healthy life years for all. As well as promoting and prolonging healthy live years for all, it has also demonstrated the potential of public health to use community assets and tackle local health issues effectively.

Despite unequivocal evidence that prevention is more cost effective than treatment, funding cuts and a lack of focus on prevention hinder progress in reducing health inequalities and addressing the impact of social determinants on the physical and mental health of the population.

The future of public health report series features six reports on the crucial role of public health and the actions needed to optimise the link between health and productivity to drive economic recovery and positive societal impact.

The future of public health research

Our research was carried out between March and July 2021, against the backdrop of the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It involved an extensive literature review, a survey of 1,500 front-line health and care professionals across the UK, 85 interviews with stakeholders with an interest in public health, including public health specialists, academics, policy makers and employers, as well as insights from Deloitte colleagues.

The future of public health reports include insights from the primary research and where applicable, good practice case studies.


Explore the full series

Overview – Narrowing the gap: Establishing a fairer and more sustainable future for public health

An executive overview of the key findings from the series, examining the current challenges and future requirements for a resilient public health system in the UK.

Identifying the gap: Understanding the drivers of inequality in public health

Evaluating the pre-existing and current challenges and solutions to tackling the ‘wicked problems’ affecting public health, including the impact of COVID-19.

Bridging the gap: Protecting the nation from public health threats

Examining the health protection policies and approaches in the UK, as well as the link between climate change and public health and the opportunities brought on by health reform and the creation of the new UK Health Security Agency.

Negating the gap: Preventing ill health and promoting healthy behaviours

Exploring how investment in prevention and health promotion can help increase healthy life years and reduce health inequalities.

The role of employers in reducing the UK’s public health gap: Improving the health and productivity of employees

Exploring how organisations can build a more resilient and productive workforce by supporting the health and wellbeing needs of their employees.

Tackling the gap: Harnessing community assets to improve the equity of public health outcomes

Demonstrating the importance of asset-based, place-based solutions to improve public health, as well as of creating sustainable and systemic change to empower individuals and communities.

Life Sciences and Health Care Podcast

Listen to episodes 13, 16 and 17 with host Karen Taylor, to hear more about the reports from the future of public health series