Health protection: children

Content last reviewed: April 2017


Health Protection involves the planning, surveillance and response to incidents and outbreaks of disease. It prevents and reduces the harm caused by communicable diseases and minimises the health impact from environmental hazards such as chemicals and radiation. It also includes the delivery of major programmes such as national immunisation programmes and the provision of health services to diagnose and treat infectious diseases.

The Local Authorities Regulations 2013 explains the new health protection duty of local authorities. These regulations are made under section 6C of the NHS Act 2006 (as inserted by section 18 of the Health and Social Care Act 2012). This came into force on the 1st April 2013:

  1. The Health Protection team, on behalf of the Director of Public Health (DPH), is responsible for the Local Authorities' contribution to health protection matters including the response to incidents and emergencies. Public Health England (PHE) will provide specialist support and have a complementary role to play. Both PHE and Public Health in the Local Authority will work as a single unit.
  2. NHS organisations, including NHS England (NHSE) and the local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), have a legal responsibility under the NHS Act 2006 to mobilise resources to manage incidents and emergencies. They also have a legal duty to co-operate with Local Authority Public Health in delivering national and local health protection priorities.

The role of Health Protection involves:

  • Planning and responding to incidents and emergencies;
  • Surveillance of communicable and notifiable diseases;
  • Reduction of detriment due to communicable and non-communicable diseases, and prevention of infection and infectious diseases;
  • Minimising the health impact of environmental hazards; and
  • Reducing premature mortality and morbidity by improving environmental sustainability.

The role of Health Protection begins from the day life is conceived until the end stage of life. Health Protection issues include:

  • Vaccine preventable diseases (measles, mumps, rubella, human papillomavirus)
  • Gastrointestinal diseases (food poisoning notifications, food hygiene standards)
  • Respiratory diseases (tuberculosis, pneumococcal disease, seasonal flu, asthma)
  • Hepatitis
  • Sexually transmitted infections (chlamydia, HIV)
  • Environmental hazards (radon, skin cancer, air pollution, water quality)

Since 1st April 2013, NHSE have been responsible for the local commissioning of screening and immunisation services through public health commissioning teams in each of its 27 Area Teams. Central Bedfordshire Council is part of the Midlands and East (Central Midlands) NHS area. Public Health England is responsible for providing expert quality assurance of the screening and immunisation services through the specialist national screening teams and staff who previously worked for the Health Protection Agency. Central Bedfordshire Council is part of the PHE East of England Centre.

Locally, the DPH has a duty to ensure plans are in place to protect their population including protection through screening and immunisation. Public Health provides independent scrutiny and challenge of the plans of NHSE, PHE and providers. PHE supports the DPH to hold NHSE to account through the provision of data and information on performance against standards. Directors of Public Health (DsPH) should assure themselves that the combined plans of all these organisations are in place and that they are delivering effective screening and immunisation programmes to their local populations.

This chapter includes our current priorities in childhood and adult immunisation, screening of infectious diseases, Hepatitis B and C, Tuberculosis and health care acquired infections. The status of Chlamydia and HIV are included in the chapter on sexual health. Sustainability, carbon management and the health impact of environmental hazards are included in the chapter on healthy and sustainable living.

Last updated Tuesday, 25th April 2017