The comments made by Alex Norris, the Shadow Minister for Public Health, on 18 August 2020.
The structural reorganisation that Matt Hancock has announced today is a desperate attempt to shift the blame after years of cutting public health budgets when the real shift we need is towards an effective local test and trace system that delivers mass testing and case finding. Matt Hancock himself was responsible for Public health England and in setting PHE’s priorities last year – ministers didn’t even mention preparing for a pandemic.
This announcement gave no answers on what will happen to other vital areas of public health like addiction, obesity and sexual health either. We went into this pandemic with health inequalities widening and life expectancy going backwards for the poorest. We have seen that Covid-19 has thrived on these inequalities, disproportionately impacting the poorest and black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. A strong public health sector is needed more than ever.