Responding to reports that the Government has ‘effectively dismantled’ the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID), Dr Penelope Toff, chair of the BMA public health medicine committee said:
“There are serious questions about whether these changes to OHID will mean a scaling back of vital national public health leadership and functions. This is happening in a context where public health funding in the UK has been relentlessly eroded for almost a decade – with the local authority public health grant in England now 27% down per person compared to 2015 and many local services scrapped.
“The hard work of OHID public health staff remains essential if we are to improve the population’s health and understand and address our country’s growing and preventable health inequalities. Evidence given to the Covid inquiry reminds us of how the overstretched public health system and relatively poor health of the population made us vulnerable to the devastating impacts of the pandemic. So, it is particularly worrying to hear about the restructuring of this key public health resource, with the loss of highly skilled specialists.
“There are huge concerns about whether this reduction of professional expertise will further reduce the ability of public health experts to influence government to do the right thing and invest in prevention. It is not clear whether the wider public health workforce was fully consulted and what assessments were made, to see how these changes might impact on the population, especially the worst off.”
Notes to editors
The BMA is a professional association and trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.