Mobilising public health action against bad legislation …

olympics opening ceremony celebrating the NHS

Public Health, by definition, works in the public interest. Sometimes this requires acting against a government that, for whatever reason, seeks to pass legislation that harms the public interest.

One recent example of this was when the public health community in England mobilised against the Health and Social Care Bill. It’s worth re-capping some of the highlights of that mobilisation. It really started when more than 400 public health professionals wrote an open letter to the House of Lords, calling on peers to reject the government’s Bill. See here and here

A further defining moment came when the Faculty of Public Health convened an Emergency General Meeting to debate the question of whether it should oppose the Bill outright. Arguments in favour of opposing the Bill on public health grounds were made and the motion calling on the FPH to oppose the Bill was eventually carried.See here for some you tube clips:–2IT6sU84–4mvIK6Y&feature=related

Unfortunately, the Bill was passed by parliament in spite of growing professional and public opposition; and in spite of evidence that the reforms would disrupt, deteriorate and disorganise health care.

But it did demonstrate the integrity, authority and courage of the public health profession.

It remains to be seen if the more damaging aspects of the 2012 Health and Social Care Act can be reversed. But we must hold onto the conviction that the public health community has the authority and mandate to speak out in the public interest and in defence of science and evidence.

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