MPs Feel Public Health England Lacks Direction
In its first 10 months, Public Health England hasn’t shown that it is an effective champion of the nation’s Public Health, according to a senior committee of MPs. The House of Commons Health Select Committee also cast doubt on PHE’s ability to act independently of government, with Chair Stephen Dorrell criticising comments made by the agency as “faltering and uncertain when they should have been clear and unequivocal.”
The manner in which PHE set about establishing policy priorities and a work programme was another area of concern, with Mr Dorrell, who was Health Secretary in John Major’s administration, saying: “Tackling alcohol misuse, smoking and the crisis of obesity are fundamental to improving the nation’s health, but PHE has yet to strike the right tone when addressing these issues.” The committee did note that the transition which saw the return of public health to local government after an absence of 39 years was handled successfully, allowing PHE to effectively tackle last year’s measles outbreak and the subsequent vaccination catch-up programme. There were, though, further questions regarding the role of PHE in health emergencies.
Reacting to the report, PHE Chief Executive Duncan Selby said, “In our first six months our job was to stabilise the system; looking forward, it will be to transform it. We will, of course, carefully consider the report’s recommendations.”