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Public health impact tests scrapped

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Doctors are disappointed by the scrapping of a proposal that would have seen all government policies assessed for their impact on public health.

Wales snowglobeThe suggestion was contained in a green paper for the Public Health Bill in Wales but has been dropped from the subsequent white paper.

In response to the latest consultation, BMA Cymru Wales says it is extremely concerned this is ‘a significant step backwards from the more innovative high-level proposals’ in the green paper.

BMA Cymru Wales says putting health impact assessments on a statutory footing would have made Wales an international leader in the field of public health.

Its response says: ‘Health impact assessments have been researched, reviewed and promoted by the BMA across the UK in a variety of ways since 1994. The association therefore has a long history and substantial literature on [their] effectiveness and feasibility.’

BMA Cymru Wales notes that the majority of the responses to the green paper consultation were supportive of the concept of health impact assessments so it is surprised they have been dropped.

While the association welcomes proposals to introduce minimum alcohol pricing and a ban on the public use of e-cigarettes in enclosed spaces, it argues the white paper does not go far enough to address the major public health challenges.

The BMA response adds: ‘The “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity for Wales to take an international lead in adopting a truly preventative and enabling approach to public health has been lost with the removal of the proposal to place health impact assessments on a statutory footing.’

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