The Case for Winding up Public Health England

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Some of what Public Health England does is worthwhile. This includes protecting us from public health hazards, and preparing for and acting upon public health emergencies.

It claims to promote healthier lifestyles, to advise government and to support actions to achieve this. Unfortunately it has taken as its remit to urge more controversial laws intended to promote what it sees as healthier. It pushed for the sugar tax and relentlessly pursued smokers. It recommends alcohol limits plucked out of thin air without scientific basis, limits so low that everyone laughs at them.

Now it wants our breakfasts limited to 400 calories and our lunches and dinners to 600 calories, and it wants supermarkets compelled by law to serve ready meals so limited. That would put a day’s calories at 1,600 calories, well short of what would be healthy for most people. The difference between men and women has disappeared, even though their different metabolisms have not. It wants candy bars reduced to 100 calories maximum.

It has become a bossy killjoy, apparently intent on making us all miserable in the cause of what its personnel see as good health. There are ways of encouraging healthier lifestyles other than the strong-arm tactic of banning things. What is achieved is to make people nervous about enjoying themselves, raising stress levels, and probably having a net negative effect on their health.

Public Health England should now be wound up and replaced by a body whose remit is limited to health hazards and emergencies. We would all be a lot happier if this happened, and that would probably make us a lot healthier.

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12 COMMENTS

  1. Yes but what about the Fiscal policy which is very powerful but needs to be carefully managed. The NHS was conceived and built in times of high national debt. This could occur because creation of money is not an inherent constraint. Thanks to the government spend and tax circuit, the NHS nurse, doctor, physiotherapist or pharmacist need not cost anything as long as (they serve a useful purpose and) the money spent on them is also spent. In fact, it is more likely that society will profit through ‘crowding in’ more economic activity through NHS employees’ subsequent spending and a healthier public.

    It is estimated that the fiscal multiplier for UK healthcare spending currently lies between 2.5 and 6.1. This means for every £1 spent on the NHS approximately £4 of economic activity results.[10] If you had a cash-back card that gave you £4 back for every £1 spent, you would not cut back on your spending! Only when we reach a position of over supply when NHS staff wait forlornly for patients to present do we reach a point where the multiplier falls to below one. We are, at present, an unsafe distance from a workforce oversupply scenario.

    As a sovereign nation, the UK can always afford high quality universal NHS healthcare. Money is essentially an accounting system designed to facilitate our collective activities and development. Fiscal policy needs to be activated to meet the needs of our society as there is now observable failure of the prevailing reliance on monetary policy and preservation of rent-seeking private interests. It is evidently wrong to assert that healthcare access and quality is limited by the availability of money. The constraint, in truth, has never been the potential availability of money, but the desire to resource the NHS appropriately. In the words of John Maynard Keynes, ‘Anything we can actually do we can afford.

    http://www.taxresearch.org.uk

    • Please do not ever apply for a job as accountant at my company. When I buy paper, printing ink, laminating film etc I fully expect that what I pay will be on-spent but it most certainly does not cost me nothing. I hope to make a profit and get my money back eventually, but I won’t if I follow your advice and spend as much as I can on my inputs. I wonder how many economies have tried to spend their way into prosperity and failed.

      Anecdotally, I had a girlfriend with a father who never stopped bragging about how much money he saved by bargaining. He’d got ten per cent off on this item by paying cash, that was factory seconds a third off, inside contacts got him staff prices less twenty per cent. We used to joke that if he kept on spending money like that, pretty soon he’d be the richest man in the world.

  2. I have learned to ignore that high-pitched buzzing.

    As far as PHE is concerned,

    “The forces of tyranny expand inexorably to fill the space made available for their existence.” I’ve literally just read the in Jordan Peterson’s book. And it applies to this bunch of evil-doers with their faux concern and ineffective but offensive tactics. Now, ‘tackling’ obesity. First, it’s not society’s problem. They are merely justifying their intolerant reaction to fat people by claiming dubious imagined health costs. Secondly the solution they espouse is to fiddle with foods and portions used by everybody, not just the obese. It’s not unusual, but it is invidious, to punish everybody because it seems cruel to punish actual offenders. If it were really a problem, chase down those fat buggers and lock them up and force feed them that oh-so-healthy diet. No, don’t wanna do that, rather deny nice food to everyone. Bastards, useless tyrannical bastards.

    • A corollary of Parkinson’s Law (1955):

      ‘Observation that “work expands to fill the time available for its completion,” and that a sufficiently large bureaucracy will generate enough internal work to keep itself ‘busy’ and so justify its continued existence without commensurate output.’

  3. Twat o’T: It is estimated that the fiscal multiplier for UK healthcare spending currently lies between 2.5 and 6.1
    It must be obvious to even the meanest intelligence (a broad category which includes you) that anything as vaguely expressed as that is pure guesswork by partisans of tax & spend.

    This means for every £1 spent on the NHS approximately £4 of economic activity results
    Obviously not: you have reduced your invented two value “multiplier” to a single figure. The other difficulty, of course, is that public sector productivity is expressed as total public sector expenditure for want of a yardstick for calculating the time wasting and loody-minded obstruction which public sector workers excel in.

    Try again.

  4. Mr Ecks – Never stand between a bureaucrat and his pension! Cars overturned, fires set, threats against your children. Living off others as you shuffle papers is temporary; continuing to live off others as you do nothing at all is the meaning of life.

    The American counterpart, Centers for Disease Control (“Prevention” recently got appended to its name, clarifying that its purview includes everything), has been restricted since 1996 by the “Dickey Amendment” against doing research on gun violence. (No one goes to Washington to “research” anything, but to devise sales pitches. Surprise, the normal use of guns is violent!) Terry Jeffrey wrote for the Congressional News Service, picked up by Fox Business, that Democrats are eying the Dickey Amendment as one of eight hills to fight over the imminent debate on the fiscal 2019 federal budget. Happily, they are in the minority; unhappily, dithering Republicans are in the majority, happy to allow a new era of propaganda in trade for, say, an earmark.

    http://www.foxbusiness.com/politics/8-key-battles-in-the-spending-bill-fight

  5. Spike: Bureau-violence Spike? Are the fuckers going to put in a request in triplicate for permission?. They can’t even make the shit world of penpushing work. I think it unlikely they will be any more successful at being tough guys. Let the arseholes try by all means.