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RCP calls for public health professionals to have strong links with the NHS

Commenting on the publication of the Health Select Committee’s public health report, Sir Richard Thompson, president of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), said:

The RCP believes that those working in public health must have strong links with the NHS. We believe that the Health Select Committee’s recommendation that a director of public health must sit on the board of clinical commissioning groups and the NHS Commissioning Board will help to develop and strengthen links with the NHS. The RCP believes that this is necessary for integrated working. We believe that reciprocally hospital doctors should be represented on Health and Wellbeing Boards, which will be based in local authorities.

The RCP is calling for the statutory registration of public health professionals. We believe this will help to ensure that directors of public health have the skills and experience needed for this expert and specialised job. Like the committee, we would welcome the government giving the Health Professions Council the role to regulate public health professionals.

Like the RCP, the health select committee is sceptical about the Responsibility Deal’s ability alone to resolve major public health issues such as obesity and alcohol. The RCP, along with five other health organisations, declined an invitation to sign up to the alcohol responsibility deal because of serious reservations about the proposed alcohol pledges. We believe their scope was too limited and the outcome measures were not specific or measurable. However, the RCP remains committed to working with government to improve public health.

The RCP echoes the health committee’s concerns about the independence of Public Health England (PHE). PHE must be authoritative, independent and able to hold the government to account. We agree that PHE must be visibly and operationally independent of Ministers. Locally, directors of public health (DPH) must also have sufficient influence and should be appointed to chief officer level within local authorities.

The RCP agrees with the Health Select Committee that there are opportunities within public health policy to address the rising demand on the NHS and other public services. The government must use all available levers to improve and protect the health of the population.


For further information, please contact Lisa Cunningham, Public Affairs Manager, on +44 (0)20 3075 1468 / 07990 745610, or email Lisa.cunningham@rcplondon.ac.uk

Notes to editors