RCM comments on Matt Hancock speech and decision to axe Public Health England
Commenting on the announcement this morning by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to axe Public Health England (PHE), RCM Chief Executive Gill Walton said:
“There is a big risk in what the Secretary of State has put forward today that, as we ramp up our ability to fight COVID 19, we forget that there are significant risks already endemic in this country. Cutting levels of obesity and smoking not only makes us healthier as a nation, it also reduces a significant burden on the NHS. Helping the population become fitter and healthier isn’t so much about which logo is on the letterhead as it is about enough money being spent on the things that work. It doesn’t help that public health budgets have been cut by a quarter in the last five years. It was welcome to hear the Secretary of State acknowledge the importance of that work, but he was light on ideas.
“What we need is more money on the frontline so we can afford more midwives to help women stop smoking and start breastfeeding. That’s how you have an impact on public health in the long term.
“You have to ask if now is the right time to be making big organisational changes in the bodies tasked with fighting covid-19. We need staff who work there to have their eye on the ball, not distracted by change.
“None of what we have heard from the Secretary of State today reduces the need for there to be a full public inquiry into the pandemic. We need independent people – not ministers or their advisors – to look into how prepared we were, how well we did, what lessons we can learn and what changes we can make.”
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The RCM is the only trade union and professional association dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team. We provide workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance, and information, and learning opportunities with our broad range of events, conferences and online resources. For more information visit the RCM website at https://www.rcm.org.uk/.