(Ernest) Alwyn Smith

BMJ 2016; 354 doi: (Published 14 September 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;354:i4933
  1. David Payne
  1. London
  1. dpayne{at}

Professor who shaped public health policy in the UK

At the 2015 Faculty of Public Health annual conference Alwyn Smith, its former president, urged delegates: “Don’t just fight for the profession of public health. Fight for the health of the public.”

Earlier he described how, during his tenure from 1981 to 1986 (he is the only president to be elected twice), an invitation to advise the Department of Health on healthcare planning for nuclear war had divided members.

“The majority of older people saw this as a challenge, that we should accept a unique opportunity to demonstrate our planning skills. A minority—on the whole rather younger—objected on the grounds that healthcare planning for nuclear war was nonsense.”

“It was possible to produce a document which could achieve both objectives. The planning could be so presented to make it evident to any intelligent reader that the only sensible strategy would be to try to prevent getting involved in a nuclear war,” he said. …

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