Public health observatories (PHOs) were set up in England in 1999, having been announced in the Saving Lives: our healthier nation white paper. Previously strong health intelligence functions had existed in the former regional health authorities (RHAs). The English white paper Choosing Health consolidated the recommendations of Wanless and produced a wide-ranging list of recommendations and conclusions. Wanless commented on the paucity of information of the current wellbeing of the population, particularly at local authority or PCT level. The development of regional health intelligence strategies is now crucial to make best use of the limited resource available in the regions, in health and social care organisations and in local authorities. These need to be connected together much more effectively. In recent years public health intelligence capacity in England has been fragmented across many organisations. Additional resources for PHOs and the public health intelligence function were identified.