The government has today (September 18) announced plans to scrap Public Health England in favour of a new organisation called The National Institute for Health Protection which will combine Public Health England, Test and Trace as well as the Joint Biosecurity Centre.
The government is immediately bringing together PHE, NHS Test and Trace and the Joint Biosecurity Centre under the interim leadership of Baroness Dido Harding, with a single command structure and operating model to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.
The change comes as the government tries to work how out to best deal with the ongoing issue of Covid-19 pandemic.
As part of this commitment, the NIHP hopes to provide local authorities with support and resources to deal with local outbreaks more efficiently.
In order to minimise disruption to the work dealing with the pandemic, the organisation will not be fully operational until Spring 2021.
It will take on existing UK-wide responsibilities and work with local government, the NHS and the devolved administrations to ensure the UK has the strongest possible health protection system. It will build on the existing strong working relationships between the 4 nations of the UK, including on data-sharing, alert levels and border issues.
Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, said:
“I want to thank all my brilliant colleagues at Public Health England, the NHS, the Joint Biosecurity Centre, local directors of public health and their teams, contact tracers, diagnostics experts, epidemiologists, infection control teams, and every single person who has contributed to the national effort to get this deadly pandemic under control over the last 8 months.”
Duncan Selbie, outgoing PHE Chief Executive, said:
“I could not be any prouder of what PHE has achieved since 2013 in protecting the country from infectious diseases and environmental hazards and in improving the health of the people from reduced smoking rates to tackling poor air quality and obesity and much else.
“PHE’s work on the pandemic in the early stages and since stands testament to the professionalism and unremitting hard work of my colleagues and bought precious time for the NHS and government to prepare.”