Peter DraperBMJ 2016; 355 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i4865 (Published 14 October 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;355:i4865
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Joanna Lyell’s obituary of Peter Draper underestimates how bravely outspoken he was in the field of Public Health, at a time when the then Thatcher government having attempted to bury the Black report, refused to even allow the use of the term ‘health inequalities’ preferring the less ‘political’ concept of health gain. The Public Health Alliance which he founded with Alex Scott- Samuel was an amazing coalition of individuals and groups which included the Campaign for Freedom of Information, the Radical Statistics Health Group, and started from a diverse group of radical and free-thinking individuals which ‘plotted together, in smoke-free rooms.’
The merger of the Public Health Alliance with the more ‘respectable’ management- led Association for Public Health to form the now defunct UKPHA, occurred under the New Labour government and very quickly led to disagreements about how closely the organisation should be working with New Labour. The subsequent purge of the radical left-wingers damaged the UKPHA for many years and when it became financially unviable in 2012, under the Coalition Government, the voice of the Public Health Movement was effectively and finally silenced.
Too often now we hear respected Public Health researchers shy away from answering quasi ‘political’ questions on the grounds that their research grants will be threatened, and sadly there is a vacuum where once there was a flourishing and vibrant questioning of government policies which impact on the ‘public’s health’ and the ‘right’ of all individuals to the determinants of good health enshrined in the Public Health Association’s ‘Charter for Public Health.’
Peter Draper will be much missed as he lead the way in very dark times for public health, and sadly there is no one of his stature with the vision and capacity to organise and facilitate the momentum needed to revitalise public health.
Competing interests: No competing interests