BMA urges introduction of health impact assessments BMA Cymru Wales

The introduction of statutory HIAs (health impact assessments) could make Wales a leader in public health, BMA Cymru Wales has told a committee of AMs.

The National Assembly for Wales health, social care and sport committee is scrutinising the Public Health (Wales) Bill for a second time, after it failed in the previous assembly as a result of a political row between Labour and Plaid Cymru.

Giving verbal evidence to the committee, BMA Welsh council's legislation subcommittee chair Stephen Monaghan said: 'It's fairly well known that we are extremely supportive of HIAs being in the bill as a central lever.

'We think that, potentially, is the element that could make Wales a leader in the field.'

Statutory HIAs were introduced into the bill as a Welsh Government amendment following pressure from BMA Cymru Wales.

This time around, however, the wide-ranging bill does not have a controversial public ban on e-cigarettes – which BMA Cymru Wales had previously backed.

BMA Welsh council chair Philip Banfield said: 'We think it's particularly important to bring the Public Health Bill back to this assembly very early on and we think it is important to have things like the HIAs on the statute book.'

BMA Cymru Wales is pushing for the introduction of statutory nutritional guidelines for hospitals, care homes and pre-school settings as part of the bill in a bid to help tackle the issue of obesity.

It also wants local authorities to draw up local plans to tackle obesity.

Dr Monaghan told AMs that obesity was one of the biggest challenges being faced.

He said: 'We do recognise that many of the levers of obesity -– of which there are multiple and that's one of the issues – are out of the competence of the assembly and they are either at Westminster or Brussels.

'Hence what we've focused on is not to talk about advertising or food formulation, but instead on things that are within the competency of the assembly.'


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