Wednesday, 19 August 2020

RIP Public Health England. Where next for 'public health'?

You may probably heard the news that Public Health England is to be closed down. As you can imagine, I nearly died laughing. It is a rare example of the government acting on a recommendation from an IEA report before the report has been published (coming in September).

But what now? What comes next?

I offer a roadmap in this article for the Spectator.

In his farewell email to staff, PHE’s chief exec Duncan Selbie wrote that the ‘obvious next priority is to secure the right and best future for all those other responsibilities of PHE that are not about health protection’. PHE’s empire building created many well remunerated jobs. Those who are on the low-fat gravy train will be understandably reluctant to get off and will be lobbying hard for a new agency that is Public Health England in all but name. Having set up the National Institute for Health Protection, the government may be tempted to set up a twin organisation, perhaps called the National Institute for Health Improvement (although Nanny State England has more of a ring to it).

Politicians love creating new bureaucracies, but they should resist the urge.


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