Archive for the ‘House of Lords’ Category

By Dr Emily Dobell DFPH, Public Health Registrar

The start of 2018 has been an exciting time to work with the Faculty of Public Health. In a team of policy and communications specialists, registrars and a hugely experienced advisory board, we’ve spearheaded a campaign to ensure that Brexit, one of the biggest public health issues facing this country, will ‘do no harm’ to public health.

I applied to join the team in December, realising that this was going to be a real opportunity to learn about influencing national policy as part of my registrar training – and it’s proved to be exactly that. Brexit is a watershed moment and at FPH we’ve been campaigning to make sure that the assurances made about post-Brexit public health are set out in legislation as part of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill.

On the 31 January, it was thrilling to see Crossbench Peer Lord Crisp, former CEO of the NHS, make the case for a ‘do no harm’ amendment to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill during its Second Reading. (This was the moment Peers could debate any aspect of the Bill and signal their intention to make amendments.)

The next day, Lord Warner tabled it as an amendment to the Bill which will be discussed at Committee Stage on or around the 26 February. This is when every line of the bill is scrutinised and proposed amendments are voted upon. I’m proud to be part of the team that has supported Lord Warner and co-signatories Lord Patel, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath and Baroness Jolly who are now working tirelessly to back this amendment in order to secure our existing high level of public health.

So what exactly is the ‘do no harm’ amendment and why do we need it?

The ‘do no harm’ amendment will guarantee and protect the health of future generations as we leave the EU. While the current Secretary of State for Health has outlined the Government’s commitment to ‘maintain participation in European cooperation on disease prevention and public health’ – an assurance that is appreciated – conversations with the public health community have highlighted that concerns still exist about the potential impact of the Bill on the public’s health. Without the safety net of EU law, and in the context of significant cuts to public health and wider health budgets, we fear the gradual erosion of our existing high level of vitally important public health legislation, policy and practice.

If included in the Bill, this line of legislation would be a golden opportunity for the Government to provide much-needed reassurance to the health community that Brexit will ‘do no harm’ to the public’s health and will not put increasing pressure on the NHS.
We have made huge progress in public health during our time in the EU and the public needs assurance that their health is of paramount importance as we leave. The ‘do no harm’ amendment could be the most important piece of legislation we see passed in our lifetime.

Please join FPH in supporting this amendment and encourage the wider public health community to do the same. FPH will be tweeting throughout the Committee Stage debate, so please add your support by following @FPH on Twitter and using the hashtag #donoharm.

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