According to a Commons Health Select Committee report in February, there were fears that PHE was just a government lap dog.
Concerns were also expressed by external organisations in written evidence that PHE staff do not have freedom to contradict Government policy. The Committee is concerned that there is insufficient separation between PHE and the Department of Health. PHE can only succeed if it is clear beyond doubt that its public statements and policy positions are not influenced by Government policy or political considerations. The Committee believes that Public Heath England was created by Parliament to provide a fearless and independent national voice for public health in England. It does not believe that this voice has yet been sufficiently clearly heard.It has evidently cleared its throat since though, because here is current government policy on adding e-cigs to the terms of the already totalitarian smoking ban.
A statement from the Department of Health said it has no plans to enforce a ban [on e-cig use in public] - but said individual trusts could do so under their own health and safety workplace policies.Yet, in a document released today [page 11], PHE are crystal clear what they will be lobbying the government for.
32. e-cigarette use should be prohibited in workplaces, educational and public places to ensure their use did not undermine smoking prevention and cessation by reinforcing and normalising smoking.It seems that the Select Committee were quite wrong. PHE appears to be perfectly free to contradict government policy ... as long as it means the ratchet only going in one direction and resulting in the public being bullied even more than the government currently does.
Talking of public health, I reckon we could do with an outbreak of cholera or Ebola in Westminster and Whitehall right now, doncha think?