The past few months have been among the most challenging of my professional career, as I am sure that they have been for many of you.
Along with the now-resurging challenge of COVID-19, we have the proposed reorganisation of PHE (Public Health England) and the potential negative health effects of the end of the Brexit transition period.
On top of that, BMA public health medicine committee members have been developing responses to all these issues on behalf of you all and the wider BMA.
During the course of the pandemic the committee has sought to defend the pay and conditions of public health doctors. We have had some notable successes in ensuring additional pay for registrars undertaking work for PHE. We are working on extending that to local authorities. We have also sought to ensure the public health system makes the best possible use of returning doctors and continues to do so over the next 12 months or more. We believe the effective use of this group of doctors is the best way to tackle the workload challenges many of us now face. If you have any concerns about either of these issues, please email the committee.
Like many of you, while we were not wholly surprised at the decision to reshape PHE, we were surprised and disappointed at the way it was done. The BMA has made its feelings known to the health secretary on the way information has been leaked and has made it clear that it expects to be consulted on the changes. Through the PHE local negotiating committee we are working on a joint position on the next steps, and we are close to agreeing a set of principles to underpin our response with a wide range of professional organisations. Look out for the publication of these initiatives on the BMA website.
Given the significant effect of these issues on the morale of public health doctors we hope to be able to bring you all together at a virtual conference, most likely in early November. Please look out for further details in newsletters and emails. If you have personal concerns about your health and wellbeing, the BMA has a range of support services which can be accessed via the BMA website.
Finally, nominations for 12 places on the committee will open on Friday 11 September. The places are open to any public health doctor in any part of the UK. Our aim is to run a more flexible and open election than we have in previous years with one objective being a better-balanced committee in terms of gender and ethnicity. If you have been affected by and/or are interested in the issues that we are facing do please consider standing for election. With all the challenges ahead we need the strongest possible committee working on your behalf.
Peter English is chair of the BMA public health medicine committee