Public health experts are turning up the pressure on the government to put some muscle behind practical steps to help prevent ill health that will ultimately take some pressure off NHS resources.

Drawn up by the Faculty of Public Health and the Royal Society for Public Health, which together have around 9,000 members, 12 Steps to Better Public Health – A Manifesto lays out 12 key recommendations that, if implemented, experts believe will have a huge impact on public health.

Among the package of recommendations is introducing presumed consent for organ donation, Chlamydia screening for college and university ‘freshers’, banning smoking in cars with children, introducing compulsory and standardised front-of-pack labelling for all pre-packaged food, and a minimum price of 50p per unit of alcohol sold.

According to health experts, should the measures suggested by the report be adopted by the next government, the UK’s health and well-being will improve for the new decade, which will also help take some of the heat off the nation’s already stretched health services.

“Preventing ill-health with firm policies such as the smoking ban in cars has got to be right up there at the top of the next government's agenda,” said Professor Alan Maryon-Davis, President of the UK Faculty of Public Health, adding: “Any party that claims to be the party of the NHS has to commit to promoting and protecting health as well as healthcare - all the more so with such lean times ahead”.

“The time to act is now, not wait until it is too late to do anything meaningful,” stressed Professor Richard Parish, Chief Executive of the Royal Society for Public Health. “Many of the actions needed require political will, rather than resources,” he said, and noted that the new public health manifesto “represents a start upon which the next government can build a healthier and more prosperous future”.