CIEH welcomes role for Environmental Health Practitioners to manage local outbreaks

21 July 2020, Ross Matthewman

CIEH has welcomed new guidance for local decision-makers to prevent, contain and manage outbreaks of COVID-19 in England.

The new national framework sets out the key roles and responsibilities for managing outbreaks within local authority areas. Along with chief executives and Directors of Public Health, Heads of Environmental Health are listed as one of three possible decision-makers locally.

Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) have valuable skills and expertise in outbreak control and are very well placed to make decisions locally.

The latest Government coronavirus strategy document also highlights plans to increase local health protection teams by providing additional expertise in environmental health, epidemiology and health and safety.

Debbie Wood, Executive Director for Membership and External Affairs at CIEH, said:

“We welcome the Government’s recognition that Heads of Environmental Health are key decision-makers in managing local outbreaks.

Since the earliest days of the pandemic, EHPs have played a vital role in supporting communities and keeping the public safe. From enforcing business closures and social distancing in workplaces, to contact tracing and controlling local outbreaks, EHPs have shown they are critical to supporting the nation’s efforts to tackle COVID-19.

While we are pleased to hear there are plans to invest in additional environmental health expertise, we await further detail on how this will be taken forward. CIEH has long campaigned to promote environmental health as a career choice and we are keen to work closely with the Government to identify how to increase capacity.

We have always maintained that local and regional expertise are crucial when it comes to preventing, containing and managing local outbreaks. It’s very encouraging that the Government has acknowledged that the majority of COVID-19 outbreaks will be best dealt with at the local level.”

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