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The UK government has committed to improving the nation’s health, including the ‘grand challenge’ of ensuring people are able to live an extra 5 years of healthy life by 2035 while ‘narrowing the gap between the experience of the richest and poorest’.

Improving health should also be an important part of the government’s commitment to ‘level up’ the poorest parts of the country. These are huge challenges, particularly at a time when the nation’s health and economy are being buffeted by coronavirus (COVID-19).

In light of the impact of the pandemic and the government’s decision to abolish Public Health England (PHE), this briefing explores what needs to be put in place to make progress on the government’s commitments to improve the nation’s health. We begin by looking at the role government can play in improving the nation’s health before examining how England might transition to a new public health system and what the main priorities for any new system should be.