Medicopolitical Digest

A Labour government will raise public health profileConsultants will prepare report on casualty servicesBMA re-emphasises condemnation of tortureCMO attends consultants' committeeLabour's plan to replace GP fundholdingReserve forces will not get special treatmentBMA counselling scheme will start in AprilBMA supports regional public health consultantsMedical students prepare safety guidelines

BMJ 1996; 312 doi: (Published 16 March 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;312:711
  1. Linda Beecham

    A Labour government will raise public health profile

    A senior minister for public health and a dedicated public health unit in the Department of Health are two of the ways that the Labour party would raise the profile of the discipline if it wins the next election. The Labour shadow health secretary, Ms Harriet Harman, reinforced this commitment when she spoke at last week's meeting of the Committee for Public Health Medicine and Community Health. Public health, she said, was one of Britain's great achievements and she agreed that there should be further meetings to discuss the role of public health doctors under a Labour government. Ms Harman agreed that the minister would have to have clout and that each government department should consider the public health effects of its decisions, but she was not so sympathetic to the suggestion that he or she should not be in the health department but should have a role similar to the leader of the House of Commons.


    The chief medical officer had to have an independent voice and be a thorn in the side of government and the shadow minister agreed with Dr Noel Olsen that the dilution of the CMO's role was disastrous. She regretted the fact that public health doctors felt marginalised and demoralised and that this meant that some of the best doctors felt that public health medicine was not for them. She wanted to see a more aggressive role for public health doctors who should regard themselves as advocates.

    On the question of freedom of speech Ms Harman told the CPHMCH that she wanted everyone in the health professions to be able to speak out about their professional concerns. She reported that when she visited hospitals now she was taken round by managers and it was difficult to find out the views of doctors and nurses. …

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