Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Editorials

The demise of Public Health England

BMJ 2020; 370 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m3263 (Published 19 August 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;370:m3263

Linked Opinion

Public health is about more than being prepared for future pandemics

Rapid Response:

Joint statement to the Government on Public Health Reorganisation

Dear Editor

Over 70 organisations and alliances committed to improving health and reducing inequalities have endorsed a joint statement which we have sent to the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for Health and the interim leadership of Public Health England (PHE). This sets out the principles we all agree must underpin the reorganisation of the health improvement and wider functions of PHE. [1]
We are deeply concerned that the Government’s plans for the reorganisation of health protection in the UK currently pay insufficient attention to the vital health improvement and other wider functions of Public Health England (PHE).

Chronic non-communicable diseases are still, and will remain, responsible for the overwhelming burden of preventable death and disease in this country. The communities hit hardest by COVID-19 are those suffering most from inequalities in health and wellbeing. It is a false choice to neglect vital health improvement measures, such as those that target smoking, obesity, alcohol and mental health, in order to fight COVID-19.

Reorganisation is difficult at the best of times and these are not the best of times. Avoiding fragmentation and ensuring seamless transition from the current to any new system is essential.
At this time of global pandemic and recession, health improvement is not a ‘nice to have’ but an essential component of a successful response to the challenges we face.

Yours sincerely

Dr Nicholas S Hopkinson
Respiratory Specialist, Imperial College London, Chair of Action on Smoking and Health, on behalf of the Smokefree Action Coalition
Imperial College, London SW7

Professor Maggie Rae
President of the Faculty of Public Health

Professor Linda Bauld
Chair of Public Health at the University of Edinburgh and Director of public health research consortium SPECTRUM

Nicola Close
Chief Executive, the Association of Directors of Public Health, on behalf of the Public Health Network

Neil Tester
Director, The Richmond Group of Health and Care Charities

Sir Ian Gilmore
Director, Liverpool Centre for Alcohol Research, and Chairman, Alcohol Health Alliance UK

Caroline Cerny
Obesity Health Alliance Lead

Dr Peter English
BMA public health medicine committee chair

[1] Joint statement to the Government on Public Health Reorganisation with list of signatories https://smokefreeaction.org.uk/phehealthimprov/

Competing interests: No competing interests

31 August 2020
Dr Nicholas S Hopkinson
respiratory specialist, Imperial College London, chair of Action on Smoking and Health, on behalf of the Smokefree Action Coalition
Professor Maggie Rae, President of the Faculty of Public Health. Professor Linda Bauld, Chair of Public Health at the University of Edinburgh and Director of public health research consortium SPECTRUM. Nicola Close, Chief Executive, the Association of Directors of Public Health on behalf of the Public Health Network. Neil Tester, Director, The Richmond Group of Health and Care Charities. Sir Ian Gilmore, Director, Liverpool Centre for Alcohol Research, and Chairman, Alcohol Health Alliance UK. Caroline Cerny, Obesity Health Alliance Lead. Dr Peter English, BMA public health medicine committee chair.
Imperial College, London SW7