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Department of Health - Government Department


Department of Health - Health and well-being of people in England


About the Department of Health

The Department of Health’s overall purpose is to ensure better health and well-being, better care and better value for all. They do this by:

Setting direction
The Department of Health have responsibility for standards of health care in the country, including the NHS. They set the strategic framework for adult social care and influence local authority spend on social care. They also set the direction on promoting and protecting the public's health, taking the lead on issues like environmental hazards to health, infectious diseases, health promotion and education, the safety of medicines, and ethical issues.

Their work in setting direction includes:

  • Strategy
  • Policy
  • Legislation and regulation
  • Allocating resources
  • The NHS operating framework
  • Local Area Agreements.

Supporting delivery
The Department of Health is responsible for finding the best way to develop, support and mobilise the health and social care system to deliver improvements for patients and the public.

Their work in supporting delivery includes:

  • Performance monitoring and evaluation
  • Managerial and professional leadership for external groups
  • Building capacity and capability
  • Ensuring value for money.

Leading health and well-being for government
The Department of Health lead the integration of health and well-being into wider government policy, working with other sectors and systems with which they do not have a direct relationship with, as well as integrating wider public policy into health and care services. They also take the lead internationally on some health issues for the UK.

Their work on leading health and well-being for Government includes:

  • working with the wider public sector, the third and private sectors on issues such as health protection or lifestyle choices, including integrating health and well-being with other Government agendas at regional level through our regional teams
  • working with international partners, including the European Union (EU), World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Accounting to Parliament and the public
The Department of Health are responsible for supporting ministers in accounting to the public and Parliament. Public trust in the democratic process and in information provided by the Government is very important and it is vital that ministers give accurate and truthful information to Parliament and to the public.

They are also responsible for looking after and allocating public money to the NHS and adult social care services. They have the responsibility to explain to the public how their money is being spent, and what is being achieved as a result.

Their work on accounting to Parliament and the public includes:

  • answering parliamentary questions - both written and oral and dealing with other Parliamentary business, debates and enquiries
  • responding to letters, emails, and phone calls from the public and members of Parliament
  • communicating to the public through the media and through visits and speeches.

Supporting DH staff to succeed
They also need to support their staff. This is about their leadership and management and the corporate services they provide.