Transforming the public health system in England – consultation response

In April 2021, we responded to the Department of Health and Social Care’s consultation on their public health system reforms in England.

Background

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) published a policy paper and consultation in March 2021, which announced that Public Health England’s (PHE) public health functions will transfer to two new organisations - the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and the Office for Health Promotion.

The UKHSA will be responsible for ensuring the UK is protected against infectious diseases and external health threats. The Office for Health Promotion will sit in DHSC to drive and support health improvement work. The paper contains a number of proposals around ensuring the new public health system is fit for the future. The full DHSC paper and consultation can be found online here.

You can download our full response to the consultation below

Our recommendations

  • Vaccination is proven to be a highly effective intervention to protect children and young people against serious and potentially fatal diseases. We want to see the UKHSA renew the focus on improving childhood vaccination uptake and ensuring equity of access to immunisation services to protect children and young people from infectious diseases.
  • The UK Government should be consulting with children and young people throughout the process when looking to improve services that will have an impact on this group. This will inform the development of evidence-based services that improve child health outcomes.  
  • A renewed focus and investment in the public health workforce must be made to ensure school nurses and health visitors are supported to act as a frontline defence against multiple child health problems.
  • We welcome plans to create a cross-government ministerial board to address the wider determinants of health. We want to ensure this monitors child poverty and addresses health inequalities, and outlines the role each department has in contributing to solutions.
  • We urge the UK Government to ensure a long-term public health grant settlement to local authorities, so they have sufficient resources to deliver services to local communities.
  • We want to see greater clarity on the roles, responsibility, accountability and interface of each system to enable local leaders to plan and deliver services effectively, while ensuring the same outcomes are achieved across the system.