The Health Service Journal has reported on significant restructuring within England’s national public health unit, the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID), less than three years after its creation.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has made substantial staff reductions and organisational changes, including the loss of senior officials and the scrapping of the director general of OHID. This restructuring occurred without public or parliamentary announcement around Christmas.
Key points from the article include:
- Reductions in OHID’s staff by as much as 40-50%, with several senior roles lost.
- Dissolution of OHID’s teams with remaining staff split across different directorates within DHSC.
- Concerns raised by former Tory health minister Lord James Bethell and former Labour health minister Lord Philip Hunt regarding the loss of expertise and fragmentation of public health functions.
- Public health leaders express worries about the diminishing expert advice, lack of independence, and potential impact on the nation’s health priorities and programs.
- David Buck from the King’s Fund highlights the ill-timed nature of the reorganization, noting that it comes at a crucial moment for health policy and could hinder efforts to address widening health inequalities and other pressing issues.
Quotes from the article:
- “OHID had ‘effectively been dismantled and certainly decimated.'” – Lord Philip Hunt
- “At a time when we should be doubling down on health prevention, it seems counterintuitive to be reducing and fragmenting the expertise and influence of our central public health function.” – Lord James Bethell
Overall, the restructuring of OHID has sparked criticism and concerns about the government’s approach to public health and its ability to address health inequalities effectively.