Policies for healthy lives: a look beyond Brexit

A collection of essays curated by the Health Foundation

January 2018

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Key points

  • This collection of essays underlines the value of taking a health-in-all-policies approach to the legislative programme that will follow the UK’s departure from the EU. Health in all policies is a strategy for improving population health and reducing health inequalities by engaging policy sectors – mainly outside of the health sector – at all levels of government, to address the social determinants of health.

  • Good health is of value to the individual, and is also a societal asset – part of the foundations of a prosperous society. It is therefore important that health considerations are placed at the heart of new policy, trade agreements, financial strategies and regulations after Brexit.

  • Viewed through the lens of health determinants, the potential for change to the social, political, environmental and economic landscape in the UK could have significant and far-reaching implications for the future health prospects of people in the UK. The uniquely disruptive nature of Brexit means there is a potential opportunity facing policymakers across all sectors for a major rethink of the UK’s approach to improving the health of its population.

  • This change will require strong political leadership, effective cross-government working and a shared understanding of how social policies can support better health.

  • The essays in this collection address the impact that Brexit could have on people’s health through food and farming, employment and consumer protections, international trade agreements, economic support, and the shape of the labour market.

  • The authors identify some common challenges and point towards the necessary conditions required to deliver better domestic policymaking for health, while exploiting opportunities to innovate, be progressive and put health at the heart of policy. 

The UK’s departure from the EU will have significant and wide-ranging implications for national laws and regulations.

This profound shift in the policy landscape presents risks that must be mitigated, but also provides potential opportunities for policymakers across all sectors to collaborate on a major rethink of the UK’s approach to improving the health of its population, through the adoption of a health-in-all-policies approach.

The Health Foundation invited contributors with expertise in public health, employment standards, local government, consumer rights and food policy to share their insights on the potential risks and challenges ahead. This collection brings their essays together.

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