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Decision to scrap PHE shows Govt has got its priorities "all wrong"

August 18, 2020 3:59 PM

Responding to news that the Health Secretary has confirmed the decision to scrap Public Health England, Liberal Democrat Health, Wellbeing and Social Care spokesperson Munira Wilson said:

"Scrapping the body at the heart of our public health response in the middle of a global pandemic is yet another reminder that this Government has got its priorities all wrong.

"This move risks worsening health inequalities and it's not clear the Health Secretary has thought through who will take over vital PHE functions. Ministers are seeking to deflect the blame before the crisis is even behind us. They must take us for fools if they think people won't see through this decision.

"Many people will also be shocked by the lack of transparency around the decision to promote Tory insider Dido Harding to this pivotal role, given the Test and Trace system she was responsible for setting up is still not up to scratch.

SW Wiltshire Lib Dem spokesperson Ellen Nicholson said, my real concern is for the many programmes run by Public Health England, in particular the influenza and childhood immunisation programmes. In recent years we;ve already seen a rise in measles and mumps, the risk of disrupting the safe processes for the immunisation training, patient guideline directives and accountibility is particularly unwise during a pandemic.

Other health professionals warned about the potential loss of the agency's work on health improvement and other related areas, should the new organisation focus only on disease control and prevention, and stressed the importance of using any reform to enhance the role of public health professionals and maintaining a focus on other core public health issues.

"Rather than wiping out Public Health England, the Government would do well to reflect on its handling of this pandemic and launch the independent inquiry it has promised - that is the only way to learn the lessons of this crisis."