Response to Matt Hancock’s announcement on reorganisation of PHE August 2020

In response to the announcement made by the Rt Honourable MP Matt Hancock Health Secretary England in his speech on the future of public health in England on the 18th August, the Socialist Health Association Cymru Wales urges the Welsh Health Minister Vaughan Gething not to take similar action in any reorganisation of Public Health Wales.

The timing of this reorganisation has raised concerns amongst health professionals and in SHA Cymru Wales. Carrying out a major reorganisation is not something to be undertaken when the imperative should be to focus on actions to prevent a second wave of COVID 19 during the winter of 2020.

SHA Cymru Wales believes that Matt Hancock’s decision is simply an attempt to scapegoat Public Health England for the failure of his Government in Westminster.

We believe that overall Public Health Wales has provided good advice and leadership in the pandemic. In particular, its successful public sector partnership working with the Welsh NHS and local government in Test, Trace and Protect stands in sharp contrast to the private sector shambles in England overseen by Mr Hancock.

SHA Cymru Wales believes that public health functions successfully when the separate parts work together. The importance of health promotion in tackling the growing crisis of obesity, recognised as a complicating factor in COVID 19 clearly demonstrates the need for different parts of the public health system, in this case health improvement and health protection to work closely together.

Retaining a well funded scientifically independent national public health service, working closely and effectively with local public health teams, learning from expertise nationally and internationally should be central to the Welsh Government’s continued scientific approach to dealing with COVID 19.

SHA Cymru Wales further suggests that information is provided to businesses and the public in Wales to make it clear that health is a devolved responsibility. Health policies for Wales are the responsibility of Welsh Government, taking advice from the Chief Medical Officer for Wales and Public Health Wales. Clear messaging around these responsibilities is essential in building the trust that the public needs to adhere to Welsh regulations which can differ from those in other parts of the United Kingdom.

Please direct any questions to Tony Beddow, Secretary SHA Cymru

Statement prepared August 2020