Public Health England

After learning last night that they had a budget of £4.5 billion, I thought I’d try and find out a bit more about Public Health England:

We are responsible for:

  • making the public healthier and reducing differences between the health of different groups by promoting healthier lifestyles, advising government and supporting action by local government, the NHS and the public
  • protecting the nation from public health hazards
  • preparing for and responding to public health emergencies
  • improving the health of the whole population by sharing our information and expertise, and identifying and preparing for future public health challenges
  • supporting local authorities and the NHS to plan and provide health and social care services such as immunisation and screening programmes, and to develop the public health system and its specialist workforce
  • researching, collecting and analysing data to improve our understanding of public health challenges, and come up with answers to public health problems

We do this through world-leading science, knowledge and intelligence, advocacy, partnerships and providing specialist public health services.

Right. So here’s a veritable Roman legion of busybodies (they have 5,500 employees, which is pretty much a Roman legion) who intend to make the public healthier.

We are an executive agency of the Department of Health, and a distinct organisation with operational autonomy to advise and support government, local authorities and the NHS in a professionally independent manner.

We employ 5,500 staff (full-time equivalent), mostly scientists, researchers and public health professionals.

We have 8 local centres, plus an integrated region and centre for London, and 4 regions (north of England, south of England, Midlands and east of England, and London).

We work closely with public health professionals in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and internationally.

Public Health England was established on 1 April 2013 to bring together public health specialists from more than 70 organisations into a single public health service.

I’m wondering where the £4.5 billion is being spent. It works out at about £800,000 per employee. But that’s 5 times what Deborah Arnott gets.

I suppose that the 9 centres will need offices, computers, and of course helicopters to respond to public heath emergencies. In fact I imagine that a lot of the money will be for advertising, to tell people how to be healthy. And much of it may also be a slush fund for other non-governmental public health activists.

And all at the taxpayer’s expense. And given the population of England is about 55 million, that’s nearly £100 a year from every single man, woman, and child in England.

None of these people will be doing anything remotely useful. They won’t be making life easier for anybody. In fact, as they restrict and ban more and more things (tobacco, alcohol, sugar, salt, fat, etc) they’ll be making life harder and harder for almost everybody. For as they demand that everybody get more exercise (i.e. do more work), and eat more healthily (i.e. eat less food), they will be gradually turning England into a labour camp on starvation rations, with everyone pleasingly “slim” and “fit”.

Perhaps this is how government grows. It invents new things for itself to do. It finds new “threats” and potential “emergencies”. The “threats” are discovered by “research”.  The “threats” are mostly entirely imaginary. e.g. secondhand tobacco smoke or anthropogenic global warming. In each case the “threat” is used to increase both taxes and restrictive regulations, and to increase the number of government agencies in tandem with the number of perceived “threats”.

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About Frank Davis

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10 Responses to Public Health England

  1. Spot on Frank. Thanks.

  2. M. Cooper says:

    I am still waiting, after asking numerous self appointed experts, for someone to define the term healthy.

  3. smokingscot says:

    This was a Cameron initiative that I found quite confusing at the time. Seemed the intent was to create a whip to be used on the NHS.

    What’s emerged after only 4 years is a bludgeon for the NHS, businesses and the rest of us. Ridicule – and recent pronouncements have been treated with contempt – is fine, however at 4.5 billion a year they’re a ludicrously expensive irrelevance.

    Another Cameron initiative is our Overseas Aid pledge. That stood at £14.5 billion at the 2017 budget (and Corbyn wants it increased).

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5153553/Jeremy-Corbyn-wants-foreign-aid-budget-INCREASED.html

    Fortunately his Big Society thing never got off the ground, presumably because no one understood it well enough to monetise it.

    Last one, off the top of my head, was the Office for Budget Responsibility. That too costs a veritable fortune and all it does in essence is confirms what we, the financial press and virtually every think tank and university knows. We’re running a deficit and there’s no apparent end in sight.

    http://budgetresponsibility.org.uk

  4. Tony says:

    Of course the only way to actually test the usefulness of all these public health ideas is to run a large scale controlled intervention trial. That way we’d find out whether the £4.5 Billion was better value than say 150,000 nurses (each at 30K per annum) or not.
    The good news is that it’s already been done and so all we need to do is read this blog post to find the true value:

    http://junkfoodscience.blogspot.co.uk/2007/10/junkfood-science-exclusive-big-one.html
    and
    http://junkfoodscience.blogspot.co.uk/2007/10/jfs-exclusive-part-two-of-countrys.html

    Oh dear!

  5. Tony says:

    Another thing these “experts” all seem so enthused about is vegetarianism and so called healthy lifestyles. So here’s a huge study comparing these unhealthy meat eating types with healthy vegetarians. Only an observational one so not good science but even so.

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0091743516304479

    Oh dear again!

  6. beobrigitte says:

    After learning last night that they had a budget of £4.5 billion, I thought I’d try and find out a bit more about Public Health England:

    We are responsible for:

    – making the public healthier and reducing differences between the health of different groups by promoting healthier lifestyles, advising government and supporting action by local government, the NHS and the public
    – protecting the nation from public health hazards
    – preparing for and responding to public health emergencies
    – improving the health of the whole population by sharing our information and expertise, and —
    – identifying and preparing for future public health challenges
    – supporting local authorities and the NHS to plan and provide health and social care services such as immunisation and screening programmes, and to develop the public health system and its specialist workforce
    – researching, collecting and analysing data to improve our understanding of public health challenges, and come up with answers to public health problems

    We do this through world-leading science, knowledge and intelligence, advocacy, partnerships and providing specialist public health services.
    In short, it is £4.5 billion (?per year) that is NEEDED elsewhere in this countries communities goes down the drain.

    – making the public healthier and reducing differences between the health of different groups by promoting healthier lifestyles, advising government and supporting action by local government, the NHS and the public
    Would the public health leech… erm… officials be so kind and advice (a ban to follow?) the Laacher See to stop bubbling up CO in increasing quantities? It’s rather unhealthy, you know, and GB’s population (public) will not be spared.
    https://gizmodo.com/5872418/the-supervolcano-that-can-devastate-europe-is-showing-signs-of-awakening
    Also, how come mount Etna is exempt from the smoking ban?
    Will “healthier” life styles ward off viral diseases, such as the Marburg virus or plague?

    – protecting the nation from public health hazards
    What exactly are public health hazards? CLEAR definition, no detail spared. Also, relevance of it to what our planet appears to prepare to do.

    – preparing for and responding to public health emergencies
    Soooo, public health does pay the heating bills for pensioners in England in Winter? Or are the old people seen as a burden to society and better got rid of? (Be careful, public health advocates, what you wish for. It could come true for you).

    – improving the health of the whole population by sharing our information and expertise
    Sooo, public health has the cure for everything? Really? Obviously public health is ignoring inconvenient truths to justify it’s existence. Expertise? I call it arrogance.

    – supporting local authorities and the NHS to plan and provide health and social care services such as immunisation and screening programmes, and to develop the public health system and its specialist workforce
    They’d better provide much needed cash to the NHS for more staff and and social care services. Is there an immunisation for the latest strain of flu? REALLY? What about all the other strains?
    What EXACTLY does this public health system to be developed entail? Fictional danger fight? What does the specialist workforce of the public health system do? Come up with weird stuff (like CRUK every now and then does) to syphon off more money from the public, including already below poverty line living pensioners who happen NOW to live longer but suffer tremendously in this new society run by people who are too scared to face REAL dangers?

    – researching, collecting and analysing data to improve our understanding of public health challenges, and come up with answers to public health problems
    Soooo, this public health costing US ALL in England £4.5 billion hasn’t got a clue, less even understands, the REAL dangers threatening England’s population?

    Get a life, public health officials – and teach your kids and grandkids to deal with epic fails. Or just sit there whimpering along like the despicable people of tobacco control do to the various governments to get their dirty work done tobacco control people never could do on their own because they just can’t because they are too scared.
    I guess, this applies to the healthist people, too. And they could jump easily on the tobacco control band wagon because it already was there.

    Why have I lost confidence in the people who are supposed to be my voice? Easy…….

  7. Bemused says:

    When was the last time the U.K. had a major health epidemic? Spanish flu? Cholera? Typhoid?, the Black Plague? What will they do when they finally reach the conclusion that a country filled with “healthy” old folk, all ill with the diseases of age is unaffordable?

  8. Joe L. says:

    Here’s where some of that £4.5 billion is being spent: The latest in “meta-analysis” (i.e., an observational study of observational studies) is claimed to have shown that if a person smokes just one cigarette, he or she has approximately a 70% chance of becoming a filthy, despicable “daily smoker.”

    Most people who try one cigarette become daily smokers, study says

    Data from the UK, US, Australia and New Zealand found 60.3% of people had tried smoking and an estimated 68.9% of those progressed to a daily habit.

    The study’s authors said the research showed the “remarkable hold” cigarettes could establish after one experience.

    They said it confirmed the importance of stopping cigarette experimentation.

    The meta-analysis, published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research, was based on 215,000 respondents to eight surveys between 2000 and 2016 contained in the Global Health Data Exchange.

    Lead researcher Prof Peter Hajek, from Queen Mary University of London, said it was the first time the link between trying a first cigarette and becoming a regular smoker had been documented in such a large set of data.

    “We’ve found that the conversion rate from first-time smoker to daily smoker is surprisingly high, which helps confirm the importance of preventing cigarette experimentation in the first place,” he said.

    “The UK is seeing a dramatic reduction in smoking at the moment and this tallies with recent findings that only 19% of 11- to 15-year-olds have ever tried a cigarette, so the good news is that we are on the right track.”

    In 2016, 15.5% of adults from the UK smoked – about 7.6 million people – according to the Office for National Statistics, down from 19.9% in 2010.

    In the same period, 19.3% of 18- to 24-year-olds were smokers, compared with 25.8% in 2010.

    Deborah Arnott, chief executive of the charity Action on Smoking and Health, called for the greater government regulation of tobacco sales.

    “The government is refusing to introduce licensing for tobacco retailers, even though there is strong support for this both from the public and retailers,” she said.

    However, the study’s authors said there were limitations to the research.

    One was that the surveys had yielded different results for the proportions who had progressed to becoming daily smokers – from 52% in one in the US to 82% in one in the UK – which meant the 68.9% figure was an estimate, as a weighted average of the figures.

    The authors also said there were questions about the accuracy of people’s recall of their smoking history.

    Public health minister Steve Brine said: “Britain is a world leader in tobacco control, and thanks to our tough action smoking rates in England are at an all-time low.

    “We recently launched a new tobacco control plan to map the path to a smoke-free generation and are working to educate people about the risks and support them to quit for good.”

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