Public health in England in 2016—the health of the public and the public health system: a review

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Journal article by the President of the Faculty of Public Health.

This article describes the current state of the health of the public in England and the state of the public health professional service and systems.

Sources of data

Data sources are wide ranging including the Global Burden of Disease, the Commonwealth Fund and Public Health England reports.

Areas of agreement

There is a high burden of preventable disease and unacceptable inequalities in England. There is considerable expectation that there are gains to be made in preventing ill health and disability and so relieving demand on healthcare.

Areas of controversy

Despite agreement on the need for prevention, the Government has cut public health budgets by a cumulative 10% to 2020.

Public health professionals broadly supportive of remaining in the EU face an uphill battle to retain health, workplace and environmental protections following the ‘Leave’ vote.

Growing points and areas timely for developing research

There is revitalized interest in air pollution. Extreme weather events are testing response and organizational skills of public health professionals and indicating the need for greater advocacy around climate change, biodiversity and protection of ecological systems. Planetary health and ecological public health are ideas whose time has certainly come.

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