PM urged to ensure smaller charities do not suffer after closure of Public Health England

The head of a medical support charity has written to the Prime Minister urging him to ensure that smaller charity partnerships are not lost when Public Health England is axed.

The letter from John James, chief executive of the Sickle Cell Society, follows previous concerns raised by the leaders of more than 70 health organisations, who warned that the abolition of PHE would damage the fight against obesity, smoking and alcohol misuse.

In August, health secretary Matt Hancock announced that PHE, which sits within the Department for Health and Social Care, would be merged into a new National Institute for Health Protection alongside NHS Test and Trace and the Joint Biosecurity Centre.

James' letter to Boris Johnson says sickle cell, an inherited blood disorder that affects about 15,000 people in the UK, is missing from the debate, despite the UK’s national screening programme being a global leader.

The programme is run in collaboration with PHE.

The letter urges the Prime Minister to ensure that the decades-long partnership is not compromised because of the decision to scrap PHE, in favour of other high-profile public health priorities.

The letter said: “Small charities like ourselves are incredibly vulnerable, particularly in this economic and political turmoil.

“The structure of PHE must consider our contribution to the public health agenda and the diverse communities we serve.

“I therefore seek your assurance that this will be the case.”

However, that assurance may not be forthcoming; Third Sector made a similar request to the DHSC earlier this month.

The health department was asked what will become of the hundreds of millions of pounds' worth of contracts between voluntary organisations and PHE once the body is scrapped by the government. 

It declined to directly answer the query.

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