Public Health England

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Public Health England (PHE) began operation on 1 April 2013 as an executive agency of government of the Department of Health. It mission 'is to protect and improve the nation's health and to address inequalities'.


The bulk of PHE comprises the Health Protection Agency (HPA), much of which has carried on its work more-or-less unchanged, under the new PHE logo. Other arms-length bodies that will move into Public Health England will include:[1]

It is usual practice for employees of Executive Agencies to be civil servants, working to the Civil Service code.

This requires a level of secrecy which many consider incompatible with the role of a consultant, let alone a consultant in public health medicine or communicable disease control. Such professionals need to be free to speak up for the populations they serve, free from political constraint; and should have the right to participate in political activity in a way which is not permitted for civil servants.

There is a precedent for Executive Agency staff remaining on non-Civil Service Terms and Conditions: when the Regional Health Authorities were replaced by Regional Offices of the Department of Health, medical staff continued to be employed within them on NHS terms and conditions.

In 2012 it was unclear whether or not all staff - or all new staff - of PHE would be civil servants.[2]

Rapid Review Panel

The Rapid Review Panel is one of Public Health England’s independent science advisory bodies. In December 2013 PHE was advertising for a new Chair and 3 members of the Rapid Review Panel. Officially its role is 'to provide a prompt assessment of new and novel equipment, materials and other products or protocols that may be of value to the NHS in improving hospital infection control and reducing hospital acquired infections'.



Review on fracking

FrackWell.png This article is part of the Spinwatch Fracking Portal and project

In January 2014 Freedom of Information requests by Greenpeace revealed that the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) had emailed what it called "lines to take" to UKOOG before the publication of a review by PHE on the potential public health effects of chemical and radioactive pollutants from fracking in the UK.

One such line was: "We are confident that there is robust and appropriate regulation in the UK to ensure safe operations that minimise impacts to human health."

External resources

  • Public Health England study – Reuters, Shale gas fracking a low risk to public health – UK review, 31 October 2013



External links