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Public Health England

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Title: Public Health England  
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Subject: Department of Health (United Kingdom), NHS Business Services Authority, UK National Screening Committee, Health and Social Care Act 2012, NHS Trust Development Authority
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Public Health England

Public Health England
Agency overview
Formed 2013
Preceding Agency Health Protection Agency, National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse
Superseding agency none
Jurisdiction England
Headquarters London SE1
Parent agency Department of Health

Public Health England (PHE) is an 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 5,500 staff, who are mostly scientists, researchers and public health professionals. Some 10 of these staff focus on mental health.[2]


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

  • Health protection:
    • Chemical, radiative, and environmental hazards
      • Research
      • National poisons database
      • Services for those working with hazardous materials
      • Harm reduction in relation to polluted environments
      • Operations
    • Field epidemiology
    • Contagious disease surveillance and control
    • Major incident response
  • Health improvement:
    • Substance misuse treatment programmes
    • Health promotion (such as healthy diet or anti-smoking marketing)
    • Health screening programmes (such as cancer screening, STD checks, cardiovascular disease screening, etc.)
    • Reducing health inequalities
    • Specialist healthcare commissioning (in relation to major incidents, etc.)
    • National Cancer Intelligence Network (and other Networks)
  • Knowledge and Information
    • Substance misuse treatment monitoring
    • Disease registration
    • Research and development
  • Operations:
    • Microbiology unit
      • Microbe production
      • Research
      • References
      • Specialist services
    • Regional units (South / Midlands / North / London)
      • Preparation and response against major incidents
      • Local centres (Several centres per regional unit, except London)
        • Local health protection
        • Substance misuse treatment services (over more than one centre)
        • Local specialist commissioning (in relation to major incidents, etc.) and advice

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 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]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^
  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. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Top 10 causes of death in London boroughs highlight health inequalities". The Guardian. 8 January 2014. Retrieved 8 January 2014. 
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