Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s shadow health and social care secretary, has today written to Matt Hancock asking him to urgently outline who will be responsible for key public health services in the wake of the government abolishing Public Health England this week.

Vital health services like immunisations, obesity, smoking cessation, sexual health and drug and alcohol services, are all yet to be designated as the new National Institute for Health Protection focuses on the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic and infectious diseases.

Jonathan Ashworth MP today warns:

“We are in the midst of the greatest public health crisis for a century. Not only is a major structural reorganisation mid pandemic risky and irresponsible it’s left open big questions as who will lead on important lifesaving health improvement agendas including obesity, anti-smoking, addiction and sexual health services. Weeks ago Boris Johnson was telling us his obesity strategy was vital to building resilience ahead of a second wave. Now he can’t even explain who is responsible for delivering it.

“Years of public health cuts and wider austerity has left us with pernicious health inequalities contributing to us having a tragically high excess death rate. If ministers were serious about health protection they wouldn’t be downgrading important public health priorities as this reorganisation suggests. We’re calling on the government to invest in public health services and locally led public testing and tracing rather than squandering vital time on a top down reorganisation with more cash going to private contractors and outsourcing companies.”

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