CSP warns government not to abandon prevention in public health shake-up

The CSP has warned that changes to England’s public health infrastructure risks damaging the health of the nation. 


The CSP is concerned at suggestions that the new body will no longer act on non-infection causes of illness such as obesity and poor air quality.

The Department of Health and Social Care is expected to announce the abolition of Public Health England (PHE) and the establishment of a new agency focussed on epidemics.

Karen Middleton, chief executive of the CSP, said: 

Prevention of ill health should be at the heart of government policy. These cause huge numbers of excess deaths every year. In the long term, tackling the slow preventable epidemics caused by obesity, poor air quality or the social determinants of health, are as important as tackling infectious diseases. Physios are at the sharp end of treating people with mobility problems and respiratory illnesses. We know how important acting on these factors is vital to save lives.

There have clearly been failings in handling the Covid pandemic, but scapegoating PHE is unfair and potentially dangerous. A range of people and agencies are accountable for the handling of the pandemic, not just PHE. This feels like a crude attempt to shift blame.'

Despite year on year cuts to PHE and local council public health departments, PHE has managed to promote physical activity through physical activity champions and educational campaigns and challenge sugar levels in foods.

CSP members have also adopted a policy of wanting to see preventive health as a funding priority for governments.

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