Online edition of India's National Newspaper
Monday, Sep 13, 2010
ePaper | Mobile/PDA Version
Google



Opinion
News: ePaper | Front Page | National | Tamil Nadu | Andhra Pradesh | Karnataka | Kerala | New Delhi | Other States | International | Opinion | Business | Sport | Miscellaneous | Engagements |
Advts:
Retail Plus | Classifieds | Jobs | Obituary |

Opinion - Op-Ed Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

U.K. govt culls health experts

Denis Campbell

More than 100 staff sacked to cut costs, casting doubt on an improvement agenda.

More than 100 specialists in tackling problems such as obesity, alcohol abuse and smoking are being sacked by the Department of Health for England and Wales in a move that has alarmed senior doctors.

The cost-cutting move has raised doubts about health secretary Andrew Lansley's commitment to improve public health. Some have already gone, others are leaving this month, and the departures will continue until next April.

At least 30 work at the department's headquarters in London, while the others are regional co-ordinators across England, trying to reduce teenage pregnancies, boost rates of breastfeeding and improve schoolchildren's diets.

Dr. Lindsey Davies, president of the Faculty of Public Health, which represents specialists in the U.K.'s state-funded National Health Service (NHS) and local government, criticised the “shortsighted” action and feared it would make difficult problems even harder to tackle and increase the burden on the NHS.

In vital areas

The faculty knew of 70-80 regional specialists whose jobs were disappearing, she said. “The majority of these individuals are highly experienced in the development and delivery of vital public health programmes such as tobacco cessation, teenage pregnancy and alcohol misuse. It is shortsighted of government to lose this expertise, particularly when they appear to be so committed to public health.” At departmental headquarters, four of the 10 tobacco control team have seen their posts go because “programme funding”, which uses experts to improve the effectiveness of health programmes, has been ended. Other lost jobs cover alcohol, physical activity, obesity, nutrition and breastfeeding, child-centred public health and health inequalities.

In the West Midlands of England, posts are being lost in tobacco control, alcohol, food and nutrition, infant feeding, healthy schools and the “You're welcome” programme for 11-to 19-year-olds. Dr John Middleton, the director of public health in Sandwell, in the West Midlands, said the loss would affect health improvement drives in the region.

For example, the tobacco control network helped ensure the implementation of the public smoking ban in 2007 and worked with HM Revenue and Customs to tackle cigarette smuggling. “Networks of this nature take a long time to be established and to be successful. Taking them out leaves a big hole in our response to major public health problems,” he said.

The teenage pregnancy regional co-ordinators in all the nine government offices are being axed, as are the tobacco control teams in six of the nine regions.

Sir Richard Thompson, the president of the Royal College of Physicians, criticised the job losses as misguided.

“It is not the time to be reducing the public health workforce. We should be strengthening our capacity to address the growing health problems due to alcohol and obesity, and continue our work to reduce the prevalence of smoking.”— © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2010

Printer friendly page  
Send this article to Friends by E-Mail



Opinion

News: ePaper | Front Page | National | Tamil Nadu | Andhra Pradesh | Karnataka | Kerala | New Delhi | Other States | International | Opinion | Business | Sport | Miscellaneous | Engagements |
Advts:
Retail Plus | Classifieds | Jobs | Obituary | Updates: Breaking News |


News Update



The Hindu Group: Home | About Us | Copyright | Archives | Contacts | Subscription
Group Sites: The Hindu | The Hindu ePaper | Business Line | Business Line ePaper | Sportstar | Frontline | Publications | eBooks | Images | Ergo | Home |

Copyright 2010, The Hindu. Republication or redissemination of the contents of this screen are expressly prohibited without the written consent of The Hindu