Category Archives: Faculty of Public Health

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:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2–2IT6sU84

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4b48nWa4huw&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fx–4mvIK6Y&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ewi5hSKd35A&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vs1_YOxQ09Q&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DmTwl0LkrLA&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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The Faculty of Public Health ….

Voting in South Africa, First Democratic Election 1994

Voting in South Africa, First Democratic Election 1994

It’s election time for the Faculty of Public Health. Every three years, the  Faculty elects a new President. And somehow, I’ve been persuaded to stand for election.

Why?

The underlying reason is that I think public health professionals and the public health discipline are important – for the health system and society more generally. So it’s worth being committed to the Faculty and contributing to the on-going development and accreditation of the public health workforce. The more immediate reason is that I’ve been critical of the Faculty in recent months (mostly over its response to the dismantling of the NHS) and have been encouraged to address my concerns by working on the inside. Put your money where your mouth is. Something like that.

I’ve got a manifesto – as do four other candidates. This is what is says ..

Public Health in the UK faces unprecedented threats, including:

  • commercialisation of health and health care;
  • disintegration of the public health workforce;
  • disorganisation, fragmentation and erosion of ethical standards and trust within the health and social care system;
  • widening social inequalities; and
  • unchecked social drivers of ill health.

I am standing for President because I want to enable public health to mount robust and effective responses to these threats.

 Three building-blocks form the basis of my manifesto.

 First, better harnessing the professional mandate and skills of the Faculty membership to promote and safeguard the public interest whilst countering regressive and harmful political and commercial agendas, and more effectively influencing policy on the social determinants of health.

Second, as our discipline becomes divided (functionally and structurally), ensuring that the Faculty helps keep the public health community strong and united. This will require fresh thinking about how the FPH provides a safe and sound home for the many diverse professional, technical and interest groups working in public health, across the whole of the UK.

Third, promoting a programme of staff and organisational development for the Faculty so that it works more effectively as an organisation of which its members can be proud and for which they feel a sense of ownership. This will enable it to bring about much needed revitalisation of public health education, training and accreditation.

I’m not a typical candidate for the position. But as with all elections, the options available to voters and the pre-election discussion is as important as the eventual result.

Whoever is elected will require the support of all members to safeguard the future of the Faculty and of the wider ability of public health professionals to perform a public interest role effectively and safely.