Health Committee publishes Report on Public Health England

On Wednesday 26 February 2014, the Health Select Committee, of which Valerie is a member, published its report on Public Health England.

Valerie said:

“At our evidence hearing with Public Health England I asked why Public Health England had said that fracking is safe, despite 75% of the chemicals used in the process being toxic and 25% of the chemicals being carcinogenic. I received no explanation from Public Health England. I am very concerned that the Public Health England research, which says that fracking is safe, was not peer-reviewed. It is also not clear why they were looking into fracking in the first place.”

“The Committee recommended that Public Health England undertake research into Health Checks which includes an analysis of their clinical and economic benefit. The Health Check programme is a population-based risk awareness, risk assessment and risk management programme that is offered to individuals in the population aged 40 to 74 years once every five years. Public Health England said they can be done by a dentist, health professional or a pharmacist. I have concerns that Health Checks can be undertaken by any health professional and payment is made for each one. There is no guarantee that the person carrying out the Health Check has the necessary experience. In my view this is not a cost effective use of public money.”

“My comments are supported by research carried out by Professor Walter Holland of the London School of Economics who assessed the effectiveness of Health Checks in his 2009 paper, ‘Periodic Health Examination – A brief history and critical assessment’. The paper argued that periodic health checks are an attractive populist measure and supported by commercial interests. In its conclusion, Professor Hollands paper said that Health Checks completely neglect that ‘all such examinations are fallible leading to unnecessary further tests, the induction of anxiety and to being labelled ill’.”

Additional Information

Link to official transcript of Health Select Committee meeting, 19 November 2013:

Link to Health Select Committee report on Public Health England:

Professor Walter Holland paper on Periodic Health Examinations: