Government confirms ‘Do No Harm’ duty will remain after Brexit

16 May 2018, FPH Policy & Comms Team

The Government has today (16 May) confirmed that the ‘Do No Harm’ public health duty will remain after the UK leaves the European Union.

The Faculty of Public Health – with the support of 63 other health organisations and Peers from across the political divide in the House of Lords – has been calling for the Government to make clear that the current EU public health duty, known as Article 168, should influence future policy-making and be legally enforceable after Brexit.

Article 168 says that “a high level of human health protection shall be ensured in the definition and implementation of all Union policies and activities”.

During the Third Reading of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill in the House of Lords, Lord Duncan of Springbank offered a clear reassurance to Peers that the duty enshrined in Article 168 would now continue after we leave the EU.

Crossbench Peer and Honorary Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health, Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, who led the debate in the Lords, said: “Today is a good day for the public’s health. The Government has set out clearly that during the Brexit negotiations and after we leave the EU, the health of individuals, communities and the country will remain a priority.

“I thank my colleagues from across the House, and the coalition of 64 public health organisations, led by the Faculty of Public Health, for making such a strong case for the public’s health. And, I thank the Government for this important reassurance and clarification, which has the certainty needed by being on the record.”

Professor John Middleton, President of the Faculty of Public Health, said: “Despite the divisive nature of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill discussions, we always hoped we could unite all sides around a commonly-held commitment to protecting the public’s health after Brexit. I’m very proud and grateful that all sides, including the Government, have responded in such a constructive way. All sides should take the credit for this outcome.

“Today’s announcement means that anyone attempting to dilute or damage the public health protections we have in this country during the Brexit negotiations or after we leave the EU should be in no doubt that not only will they face challenge from this Government but also very likely in the courts.

“The Faculty of Public Health believes that we must build this country’s future outside of the EU around a fundamental commitment to further improving the public’s health and wellbeing. Today’s announcement takes that ambition a step closer and we hope it will be welcomed by the whole health community and the public.

“We look forward to working closely with this and future governments, the health community and others to make sure the ‘Do No Harm’ duty is properly understood and observed.”


Notes to editors:

About the UK Faculty of Public Health (FPH)
FPH is a membership organisation for 4,000 public health professionals from across the UK and around the world, and is a registered charity. Our role is to improve the health and wellbeing of local communities and national populations. We support the training of public health professionals and campaign to improve health policy in partnership with local and national governments.

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