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BMA survey shows risks to public health

The BMA has released the results of a survey of the public health workforce. Commenting on the findings, Professor John Ashton, President of the Faculty of Public Health, said:

“This survey confirms what our members have been telling us for several years: public health specialists are very concerned that the new public health structures in England are a risk to people’s health. We know the system is working well in some places, but the number of professionals who are considering leaving the public health profession is one of many reasons for concern. 

“Austerity measures are forcing many councils to make huge cutbacks, and public health provision is affected by that. Everyone should be getting a first class public health service, no matter where they live. We need the right expertise in place for a strong, fit-for-purpose public health system now and in the future. That means employing specialists with the right skills and Directors of Public Health having the necessary influence to make tough decisions about how best to improve and protect health.

“We are particularly concerned that over half of the people surveyed say they don’t have the freedom to speak out. That freedom has saved countless lives in the past when public heath leaders have spoken out, often going against the grain of popular opinion to do so.

“We need all our councils to be places that attract the best public health specialists who want to serve their local communities. For that to happen, everyone working in public health needs to play their part. FPH is doing that by working with partners to help councils understand what best practice in public health looks like and why it matters. As the Health Committee recommended, Public Health England need to step in when councils are not doing enough to protect and improve the health of their local people and support the independent voice of local Directors of Public Health. ”

Written: 20/03/2014 , last modified: 26/09/2014