Following criticism of how Public Health England has handled the coronavirus pandemic, today, 18 August 2020, Matt Hancock has unveiled the National Institute for Health Protection, to replace Public Health England, to defend UK from infectious diseases and biological weapons. The Government has said:
“The National Institute for Health Protection (NIHP) 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.”
The organisation, will be led on an interim basis by Baroness Dido Harding and its responsibilities will include:
- NIHP Local Health Protection Teams to deal with infections and other threats;
- Support and resources for local authorities to manage local outbreaks;
- The COVID-19 Testing Programme;
- Contact tracing;
- The Joint Biosecurity Centre;
- Emergency response and preparedness to deal with the most severe incidents at national and local level;
- Research and reference laboratories and associated services;
- Specialist epidemiology and surveillance of all infectious diseases;
- The Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards;
- Global health security; and
- Providing specialist scientific advice on immunisation and countermeasures.
What will happen to the other areas of PHE’s remit & functions such as mental health and health promotion etc. remains to be seen.