Intended for healthcare professionals


Government changes are jeopardising public health

BMJ 2016; 352 doi: (Published 29 March 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;352:i1662
  1. Delan Devakumar, clinical lecturer in public health1,
  2. Kate L Mandeville, specialty registrar in public health2,
  3. Jennifer Hall, specialty registrar in public health1,
  4. Shailen Sutaria, specialty registrar in public health3,
  5. Ingrid Wolfe, clinical senior lecturer public health4
  1. 1University College London, London WC1E 6JB, UK
  2. 2London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK
  3. 3Queen Mary University of London, London, UK
  4. 4King’s College London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to: D Devakumar d.devakumar{at}

Prevention and early intervention are impossible without a strong and well equipped public health workforce

On some health markers, the United Kingdom compares well with similar countries—for example, access to health services.1 However, it fares poorly on many health risk factors, such as alcohol consumption and poor diet, and in some population outcomes such as child health. For example, the UK is 32nd out of the 34 countries in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development for childhood obesity.1 2 “Prevention is better than cure” is a central argument in the NHS Five Year Forward View strategy, yet the Health and Social Care Act 2012 and recent austerity budgets have reduced the power of public health as well as the specialist workforce, jeopardising the health of the public.3

Reduced resources

Under the Health and Social Care Act, English public health departments moved from the NHS to local authorities. Although this change brings some advantages, such as increasing the opportunity for coordination and integration of policies and services that affect determinants …

View Full Text

Log in

Log in through your institution


* For online subscription