Public Health England

Public Health England
Agency overview
Formed 2013
Preceding agency
Superseding agency
  • none
Jurisdiction England
Headquarters Wellington House, 133-155 Waterloo Road, London SE1
Parent agency Department of Health

Public Health England (PHE) is an executive agency of the Department of Health in the United Kingdom that began operating on 1 April 2013. Its formation came as a result of reorganisation of the National Health Service (NHS) in England outlined in the Health and Social Care Act 2012. It took on the role of the Health Protection Agency, the National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse and a number of other health bodies.[1]

Mission and resources

PHE's mission is "to protect and improve the nation’s health and to address inequalities". It employs 5,000 staff (full-time equivalent), who are mostly scientists, researchers and public health professionals.[2]


Initially, aside from back office functions such as personnel and finance or management functions such as strategy and programme management, PHE has the following divisions:

Duncan Selbie is the Chief Executive.


PHE took over the responsibility for Be Clear on Cancer campaigns after it was created in the Health and Social Care Act 2012.[3] Campaigns have been run on Lung Cancer, Bowel Cancer, Oesophago-gastric and Kidney & Bladder Cancer.[4]

PHE is also responsible for Change4Life and ACT FAST.[5]

In January 2014 it launched a new campaign against smoking called Smokefree Health Harms on television and billboards across England.[6]

Criticism and other published comment

Public Health England has been criticised for its underweighting of mental health within its overall resourcing and agenda; in 2011 the Royal College of Psychiatrists stated its concern that there appeared to be "few, or no, commitments or resources within either the Department of Health or Public Health England to take the public mental health agenda forward."[7]

The agency was criticised by Professor Martin McKee, in January 2014, who said that continuing health inequalities among London boroughs was a scandal and claimed coalition reforms had left it unclear who was supposed to analyse health data and tackle the problems highlighted.[8]

The agency was criticised by Lancet for allegedly using weak evidence in a review of electronic cigarettes to endorse an estimate that e-cigarette use is 95% less hazardous than smoking. Lancet wrote "it is on this extraordinarily flimsy foundation that PHE based the major conclusion and message of its report". Lancet found this "raises serious questions not only about the conclusions of the PHE report, but also about the quality of the agency's peer review process."[9] Authors of the PHE report subsequently published a document clarifying that their endorsement of the 95% claim did not stand on the single study criticized in the Lancet, but on their broad review of toxicological evidence.[10] The agency has also been criticised for "serious questions about transparency and conflicts of interest" regarding this review, that PHE's response "did not even begin to address the various relationships and funding connections" in question, and that this "adds to questions about the credibility of the organisation’s advice".[11]

See also

For similar agencies elsewhere, please see the list of national public health agencies


  1. "Structure of Public Health England" (PDF). Department of Health. Retrieved 2015-07-13.
  2. Public Health England. "About". Retrieved 2015-02-08.
  3. "CRUK Be Clear on Cancer". Retrieved 16 November 2014.
  4. "NHS Choices". Retrieved 16 November 2014.
  5. "PHE Campaigns". Retrieved 16 November 2014.
  6. "Powerful anti-smoking campaign launched to show cyanide and arsenic damage". Metro. 29 December 2013. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
  8. "Top 10 causes of death in London boroughs highlight health inequalities". The Guardian. 8 January 2014. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
  9. "E-cigarettes: Public Health England's evidence-based confusion". LANCET. 386 (9996): 829. 2015. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(15)00042-2.
  10. "Underpinning evidence for the estimate that e-cigarette use is around 95% safer than smoking: authors' note" (PDF).
  11. Gornall, Jonathan (2015). "Public Health England's troubled trail". British Medical Journal. 351 (1136): 5826. doi:10.1136/bmj.h5826.
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 12/1/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.