RCPCH responds to abolition of Public Health England

Our Officer for Health Improvement, Dr Max Davie, writes about the sudden shake-up of England's public health system.

Commenting on Matt Hancock MP’s announcement of plans to abolish Public Health England (PHE), Dr Max Davie, Officer for Health Improvement at RCPCH said:

"As paediatricians and child health workers we know the vital importance of early intervention and population health improvement. It is troubling that so little thought appears to have been given to where this work will be delivered. Clearly the pandemic is an unprecedented public health crisis. But what we have gone through is not just a series of operational and delivery problems. 

We have, for the last decade, reduced funding for public health at national and local level and have paid far too little attention to long term preventative policies to help narrow the vast health inequalities that exist in England. These failures contributed to many of the problems we face today. The Spending Review is underway and we need to see investment in prevention, in early years especially, after many years of drought.

The Health Secretary suggested in his speech on Tuesday that the prevention agenda will be embedded across Government. We have long called for this, but Secretaries of State and the Cabinet as a whole must be held accountable for the development of this agenda, with a clear timeline and targets for improvements in health outcomes. 

We are also concerned about the future of vital child health work and research including the delivery of the Healthy Child Programme and the Prevention Green Paper. 

We need a transparent and wide-ranging consultation about what happens to those activities that will not move to the new National Institute for Health Protection."