Public Health England (PHE)

Public Health England (PHE) was created as an executive agency of the Department of Health and began operating on 1 April 2013.

The establishment of a public health service had been first proposed, and then confirmed, in 2010, in the Equity and excellence: liberating the NHS and Healthy lives, healthy people: our strategy for public health white papers respectively.

PHE took on functions which had previously been the responsibility of the Health Protection Agency, National Treatment Agency, regional directors of public health in strategic health authorities, public health observatories, cancer registries and cancer screening programmes. From 1 April 2013, it was responsible for:

  • supporting the public to protect and improve their health
  • protecting the nation’s health and preparing for public health emergencies
  • sharing information and expertise with local authorities and the NHS
  • conducting research and collecting data.

In parallel, local authorities took on their new public health functions. PHE would have a role in ensuring the capacity and capability of the public health system, including through supporting local government with their public health duties.

PHE was set up to have operational independence, but with ministers setting its strategic objectives. Its functions would be conferred directly on the secretary of state for health by the Health and Social Care Act 2012.


Ellison J.
Public Health England remit letter.
Department of Health; 2014.

Public Health England.
About us.; 2019.