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Double down on prevention: Open letter to Matt Hancock on the future of public health

17 August 2020

​The British Dental Association has sought urgent clarity on the government’s future plans for public health provision following its pledge to scrap Public Health England.


In an open letter to Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock the BDA has stressed that oral health inequalities will likely widen as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has outlined its concerns over the potential loss or disruption to priority work areas in dental public health, including the generation of tools and guidance for local authorities, commissioners and practitioners, epidemiology, and providing leadership and co-ordination covering key groups from young children to vulnerable older people and policy areas including sugar reduction.

BDA Chair Mick Armstrong said:

“Any loss or disruption to dental public health work will have a material impact on communities across this country. We now risk leaving policy makers without evidence to base plans, practitioners without guidance to operate in unprecedented times, while losing vital expertise from a committed and highly skilled workforce.

“Effective management of the pandemic response is a clear a national priority. But meaningfully protecting the public long term hinges on an effective approach to public health, in which oral health is not an optional extra.

“We have greeted signals from the Department of Health and Social Care on prevention. As Matt Hancock has noted scaling up these approaches has the power both to transform lives and save money.

“A pandemic is not the time to cast aside that logic, but to double down. This vital agenda demands both proper resourcing and organizational commitment.”