20 Aug 2020

The British Dietetic Association (BDA) has expressed concern today as Government announce plans to close Public Health England (PHE).

BDA Chair Caroline Bovey, RD BEM said:

“We are concerned this move could have far reaching public health implications. 

“The suggestion seems to be that the work of PHE will be spread out at a local level with a national body looking at disease control only.

“PHE leads on vital work tackling health inequality in England. We believe this work requires a nationally co-ordinated approach. 

“Without a national body leading national strategy, we believe we will very quickly see an increase in regional inequalities, ‘postcode lotteries’ and local organisations prioritising their legal obligations over the need to progress public health and disease prevention. 

“Yet again we will see focus on ill health treatment rather than on an enduring and sustainable approach that helps to prevent people getting sick in the first place. 

“Dietitians work in, and with, PHE on important work on nutrition and health, including obesity. We oppose any proposal that prevents this important work from continuing, and risks any diminution of impact, especially particularly given their recent Obesity Strategy announcements.

“The appropriate solution lies not in rearranging deckchairs, but in properly resourcing our public health bodies to enable them to carry out their brief effectively.

“Whilst we accept that PHE’s Covid response hasn’t been perfect, it has to be seen in the context of cuts to public health funding amounting to 25% over the last 5 years. 

“Ultimately the response to the pandemic is the responsibility of government and should not devolve into a blame game where organisation after organisation is scapegoated with the ultimate cost being a significant risk to people’s health.”