The government has established a new organization which will focus on infectious disease capability and public health protection.
The organization will approach public health protection with a science-led approach which will enhance the UK’s ability to meet health challenges due to COVID-19 with the colder weather approaching. The aim is to efficiently be able to deal with COVID-19 and recover from its long-reaching effects. The organization will be in full operation in spring 2021.
The country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic will be driven by The National Institute for Health Protection (NIHP) which will start work immediately. From yesterday, it will join the forces of NHS Test and Trace, Public Health England (PHE) and the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) which spesialises in analytics.
The NIHP’s responsibilities include contact tracing, research, surveillance of infectious diseases, global health security and other national health protection responsibilities.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said:
“To give ourselves the best chance of beating this virus once and for all – and of spotting and being ready to respond to other health threats, now and in the future – we are creating a brand new organisation to provide a new approach to public health protection and resilience.
“The National Institute for Health Protection will bring together the expertise of PHE with the enormous response capabilities of NHS Test and Trace and the Joint Biosecurity Centre to put us in the best possible position for the next stage of the fight against COVID-19 and for the long term.
“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.
“I would like to personally thank Duncan Selbie for his leadership of PHE bringing together 70 different agencies, pursuing ground-breaking work on tackling obesity, promoting health improvement and leading PHE, in what has been an exceptionally challenging time. I am looking forward to continuing working with him as a leading figure in the global, public health agenda.”
The NIHP will make a huge impact on local and national health levels, assisting local government and the NHS in every aspect of fighting the disease. The relationships between the four nations of the UK will be strengthened and border issues, data-sharing and alert levels will be dealt with in unity.
The NIHP will support the leadership of the 4 UK chief medical officers and report directly to the Health and Social care Secretary. The NHS Test and Trace, PHE and Joint Biosecurity Centre have been joined with immediate effect under the leadership pf Baroness Dido Harding to ensure a single command structure is in place to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through this organization and its partners, the UK will be in the best possible position to effectively face the coming health protection challenges.
Baroness Dido Harding, Interim Executive Chair of the National Institute for Health Protection, said:
“Combining the UK’s world-class public health talent and infrastructure with the new at-scale response capability of NHS Test and Trace into a single organisation puts us in the strongest position to stop the spread of the virus.
“The fantastic teams in PHE, NHS Test and Trace and in local authorities have done so much over the past 8 months, and I thank them all for their service now and in the future.
“PHE has worked incredibly well with NHS Test and Trace, and with winter ahead, the life-saving work we are doing is more important than ever.
“The changes announced today are designed to strengthen our response, and to radically ramp up our fight against this disease, whilst also protecting PHE’s essential work beyond COVID that is so important for the nation’s health.”
Michael Brodie who is currently the CEO of the NHS Business Services Authority will be supporting Baroness Harding after being appointed interim Chief Executive Officer of PHE.Duncan Selbie will be stepping into his new role as senior advisor to the Department of Health and Social Care.
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.
“It has been the honour and privilege of my career to lead PHE.”