Concerns grow for the future of health improvement as PHE restructuring continues

The news that Public Health England is to be merged with the NHS Track and Trace Services to create a new health protection agency, the National Institute for Health Protection (NIHP), has been met with concern from many in the public health community.  PHE currently works on both health protection and health improvement programmes. Jeremy Ferrer, a member of SAGE and Director of the Wellcome Trust, criticised the announcement as short-sighted and premature ahead of the official enquiry into the Government’s response to Covid-19. His remarks came amid fears of widespread job losses when PHE is merged into a new body – up to 800 PHE staff who specialise in tackling obesity, smoking and alcohol misuse could be at risk, sources at the agency told the Guardian.

The British Dietetic Association has separately released a statement  expressing  serious reservations following the announcement. BDA Chair Caroline Bovey, RD said: 

“We are concerned this move could have far reaching public health implications. The suggestion seems to be that the work of PHE will be spread out at a local level with a national body looking at disease control only. PHE leads on vital work tackling health inequality in England. We believe this work requires a nationally co-ordinated approach.”

It remains to be seen what changes to PHE mean for the Government’s recent Obesity Strategy. 

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