|ENGLAND, WALES AND
Home > Spotlight on England, Wales and Northern Ireland
Chartered Institute of Environmental Health - CIEH
CIEH provides information, evidence and policy advice to local and national government and environmental and public health practitioners in the public and private sectors. As an awarding body, the CIEH provides qualifications, events, and support materials on topics relevant to health, wellbeing and safety to develop workplace skills and best practice.
As a campaigning organisation, the CIEH aims to promote improvements in environmental and public health policy. It is based in the UK with offices in London, Northern Ireland, Wales and United Arab Emirates (Dubai). It also operates in the USA through its subsidiary, Environmental Health Testing (EHT), and in the People’s Republic of China and Hong Kong through partners.
The trading arm of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health is a wholly owned trading subsidiary which is charged with promoting the mission of the CIEH through its trading activities and its profits are gift-aided to the CIEH to support its charitable objectives. It organises conferences, seminars and produces a comprehensive range of public health publications.
CIEH provides over 50 certification training programmes which include food safety, health and safety, environmental awareness through a network of over 10,000 registered trainers and 6,000 registered training centres across the UK.
Our Royal Charter requires the CIEH to maintain the standards of the profession for the public good.
To mark the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, The CIEH has published in words and pictures, the remarkable contribution that the environmental health profession has made to health and wellbeing over the past 60 years. Extracts of which can be viewed on our website WWW.CIEH.ORG
CIEH’s perspective makes the link through the decades of change through sanitary inspectors, public health inspectors, environmental health officers and, finally, environmental health practitioners and the contributors could not have been closer to the lives, homes and workplaces that defined Her Majesty’s reign the material provides a rich social history.
Our pictorial history begins with returning ex service personnel bringing skills practised in war to civvy street. Their work was not glamorous, but vital. They were catching up from slum clearance schemes begun in the 1930s, with an added challenge — holes and craters in the urban fabric caused by enemy bombing.
As we show in the publication, members of the environmental health profession were at the coalface of social change. As well as countless and unrecorded interactions, they helped to clean up the skies, pounding the beat from street to street to enforce smoke control orders and dealt with the aftermath of the devastating floods of 1953.
Public health inspectors had numerous run-ins with slum landlord Peter Rachman’s henchmen, dealt with a national typhoid alert caused by contaminated corned beef, helped with disaster relief following the Aberfan landslide and worked to prevent an outbreak of smallpox from the world’s last recorded case.
The emphasis of their work changed over the decades, reflecting legislation, politics and science — no-one in 1952 could have had a glimmering of E. coli O157, nvCJD or, even, campylobacter.
In a delayed reaction, it was couple of decades after the UK’s entry into the European Community in 1973 that new laws came into effect in food, the environment and health and safety, as its regulations and directives were adopted. Laws were now transnational.
Some of the functions of the traditional local government environmental health service were salami-sliced, as new enforcement agencies began. Roles increased for those with an environmental health degree in the private sector and with government departments.
Environmental health is achieving the same today as it was in 1952 and it is needed just as much. Figures from the UK Office for National Statistics on avoidable mortality show causes of death that could be avoided through effective healthcare or public health interventions. Although there was a 25 per cent decrease between 2001 and 2010, avoidable mortality still represents 24 per cent of all deaths in England and Wales. Avoidable mortality rates are higher in Wales than England and higher in the north of England than the south. For males heart disease is the chief cause of early death. For females it is cancers.
The statistics are important because they will provide a backdrop for the government’s public health outcomes and these will increasingly provide a policy context for environmental health in the foreseeable future.
Because it addresses both the environmental and lifestyle causes of ill-health, environmental health is uniquely valuable as a service. In the former category, low air quality is a major contributor to cardiovascular and respiratory illness. Poor housing is still a national scandal – badly-insulated and under-heated homes kill thousands unnecessarily each winter.
Then we have diet, smoking and drinking. No responsible government can ignore a population that is eating, drinking and smoking itself to death, hence every week brings a new initiative — front-of-pack nutrition labelling, a unit-based alcohol tax, more work to reduce smoking prevalence, which is still too high.
Meanwhile, we know from the Queen’s speech that the coming Parliamentary session will bring an Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill. It will affect the life of EHPs, perhaps, giving them more time to intervene in upstream public health work.
The UK government has pledged to broaden the scope of the primary authority scheme and to identify hundreds of regulations to be simplified, merged or reviewed. Under changes to the primary authority scheme, inspection plans are to be strengthened and smaller businesses allowed to participate. The government is also considering extending the primary authority scheme to age-related alcohol sales, gambling and fire safety. There will be a further consultation on alcohol sales. The only constant is change and the CIEH has been uniquely adept at maintaining the relevance of the profession and its skills and competencies to an ever changing world.