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UK Faculty of Public Health responds to Government’s announcement on NHS reforms

The UK’s leading professional body for public health specialists has responded to the Government’s commitment to implementing the core recommendations of the NHS Future Forum but calls for further clarity around the role of public health specialists in the new system.

The UK Faculty of Public Health (FPH) welcomed the commitment by government, in its response to the NHS Future Forum report, to establishing Public Health England (PHE) as an executive agency of the Department of Health (DH).

FPH Vice President, Dr John Middleton said: “Since the announcement of the reforms in July 2010, FPH has been calling for the new national body for public health in England, PHE, to be established as an independent NHS body, ideally as a special health authority or executive agency of the DH. This is to ensure public and professional trust and confidence, and to give the new body some measure of protection from political ‘interference’.”

“Whilst we welcome government’s commitment to some key recommendations on public health, such as PHE, it still fails to take on board some important public protection measures such as committing to statutory registration of all public health specialists to ensure that those who make vital decisions on the health and wellbeing of large numbers of people meet the required professional standards.”

FPH welcomed the emphasis given to “population health” but as Dr Middleton states: “Government must recognise that this is only one aspect of public health. Public health covers health protection, health improvement, and the commissioning, evaluation and audit of health services. We’re disappointed that government has failed to take on board the NHS Future Forum’s recommendation that specialist public health expertise is embedded in all aspects of the health system. This should include the governing bodies of all clinical commissioning consortia. We’re also disappointed that there continues to be a lack of clarity around the role of public health specialists in local authorities and will be looking to the guidance on Health and Wellbeing Boards to make this clear.”

Written: 14/06/2011 , last modified: 16/04/2012