Published: 10/02/2005, Volume II5, No. 5942 Page 11

The Commons health select committee has called health secretary John Reid to give evidence to its inquiry into the public health white paper, against a backdrop of mounting concern that action will not back the rhetoric.

In its official response to the white paper, the UK Public Health Association criticises the government for not recognising the enormity of the challenge. UKPHA chair Professor David Hunter said: 'It represents a real opportunity for change, but we doubt whether the principles which underpin it are the most critical issues in addressing health inequalities and promoting public health.' The Faculty of Public Health is also critical. Its submission to the health select committee calls for a thorough review of the public health workforce, which is currently too small to deliver on the white paper.

President Professor Rod Griffiths asked: 'We have got everyone playing on the same field. Will the government remember where the goal is?' The British Medical Association has expressed 'real disappointment' at the lack of leadership over smoking and alcohol policies. In its submission to the health select committee, the BMA called for an immediate ban on smoking in public places and stronger action on reducing excessive drinking.