HC Deb 25 May 1976 vol 912 cc107-8W
55. Mr. Cartwright

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what steps he is taking to improve the scope and standard of health education in order to reduce demands on the National Health Service.

Dr. Owen

I regard health education as an important part of preventive medicine. I hope that the Government's recently-published consultative documents "Prevention and Health—Everybody's Business" and "Priorities for Health and Personal Social Services in England" will stimulate the widest general interest and will encourage health authorities and others concerned to give greater emphasis to preventive activities, including health education, in the planning of services and the allocation of resources. The Health Education Council continues to have the Department's full support.

I propose to follow up the publication of "Prevention and Health—Every-body's Business" with a series of more detailed papers on particular aspects of prevention, the first of which will be published later this year and by other activities including a one-day symposium on the general theme "Involvement in Prevention" to be held at Imperial College, London on 22nd July 1976.

The health education staff of area health authorities are primarily responsible for the planning and administration of health education activities in their areas and for collaboration with local authorities and voluntary bodies. About two-thirds of area health authorities in England have now appointed area health education officers and 220 health education officers are at present in post. Together with developments such as the growth planned on the number of health visitors, who play an important part in giving health education, and the growing interest in the subject generally, I believe that there will be increased emphasis on health education at the local as well as at the national level.