Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 50 Number 34, September 5, 2020 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

Government Abolishes Public Health England

Concerns about Latest Developments after the Abolition of Public Health England

Following the abolition of Public Health England [1], we are reproducing below a press release from councillors in the North East of England.

Health and Wellbeing Board Chairs from across the region have come together to express concern at the Government's decision to restructure Public Health England and to hand over key responsibilities to a new body with no clear idea of what it will do or how it will be governed.

"The National Institute for Health Protection appears to be an organisation set outside of the NHS but with a crucial role to play in the health of our communities," said Cllr Lynne Caffrey, Chair of the Gateshead Health and Wellbeing Board (HWB), who coordinated a letter to both the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock.

The letter from 10 of the region's 12 HWB Chairs from across political parties, expressed their surprise at the changes being proposed in the middle of a pandemic.

It also asks for the expertise of local councils in dealing with many aspects of public health, including infectious disease outbreaks, to be recognised and for any new structures or systems to be set up to be co-designed with local authorities.

Cllr Caffrey, said: "We believe we need to focus on maintaining the local capability, capacity and skills, to keep the effective working relationships already established and for us to have a system in place that is best able to protect the communities we represent."

This view is shared by Directors of Public Health (DsPH) across the region and, as leaders of local systems they have experienced at first-hand the vital role that regional Public Health England (PHE) teams play in protecting the health and wellbeing of local communities and that they do not wish to lose this regional expertise.

Amanda Healy, Durham's Director of Public Health and chair of the North East Association of Directors of Public Health, said: "Our regional PHE colleagues have played a critical role in our local response to Covid-19. As such, any proposal to dismantle these arrangements now, particularly ahead of winter, present a real risk to protecting the health and wellbeing of our community.

"It is also vital that people understand the breadth of remit that PHE has across healthcare public health, health improvement and health inequalities. We would strongly recommend that any restructuring protects these functions which have a central role across Local Government and the NHS.

"We have all been involved with many re-organisations over the years and while, at times, there have been benefits, we also understand the immense upheaval and disruption they create. Given the pressure we are all currently under we, as Directors of Public Health across the North East, are extremely concerned that this disruption may adversely affect our ability to protect our communities from Covid and indeed other infectious diseases as we come towards the winter months."


1. See "Government Abolishes Public Health England":


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