18 Aug 2020 Food Active responds to scrapping Public Health England
After reports were leaked to the Times on Sunday, Matt Hancock (Health Secretary) has now confirmed that Public Health England (PHE) will be replaced by a new National Institute for Health Protection that will focus on preparedness and response to pandemics.
We, among many other public health organisations – not just those focussing on healthy weight but drugs, alcohol, sexual health and beyond – have voiced their concerns about the timing and further consequences of these plans.
Food Active Programme Lead, Alex Holt, responded:
Food Active are disappointed to hear of the news that PHE will be disbanded. At a national level, this throws into doubt the likelihood of meeting the promises made in the new obesity strategy announced last month, as well as previous items still undelivered that were part of previous childhood obesity strategies. Pandemic aside, is this really a suitable time to be scrapping the body that was leading on much of the obesity prevention work? We have great concerns that without the leadership of Public Health England, the promises made in the latest obesity strategy will simply turn into empty promises.
At regional level, PHE networks provide valuable support for local authority public health teams through their network events, resources, expertise, collaboration and more. Public health teams have faced significant budget cuts over the last 5 years, and this has been compounded by the challenges the pandemic has brought, so capacity and support is currently at a premium.
We have worked with many PHE colleagues over the years both regionally and nationally, many of whom have been key supporters of the Food Active programme. We would like to thank these colleagues for their support and hope to continue working with them moving forward.