'Irresponsible' breaking up of Public Health England expected to be announced

'Irresponsible' breaking up of Public Health England expected to be announced

The Royal Modern society for General public Health (RSPH) reported the go to merge PHE's pandemic features with those people of NHS Exam and Trace elevated a lot more issues than solutions, which include the timing of an announcement on the scrapping of a countrywide public well being company in the midst of a world-wide pandemic.

In its place, a new National Institute for Health Protection will focus on infectious diseases and "external threats", including from biological weapons.

"No public body has done more to protect the health of the people than PHE nor has more reason to be proud of its contribution".

"We need an institution whose only job is to look out with constant vigilance to prepare for and respond to external threats like a pandemic".

The institute's new chief will report to ministers at the Department of Health and to Professor Chris Whitty, England's Chief Medical Officer, in a move which gives political appointees direct control over its response to pandemics.

The move comes after mounting criticism by senior government members who are unhappy with how Public Health England has dealt with the pandemic.

It is part of the government's controversial plans to break up Public Health England (PHE), with Tory peer Dido Harding becoming interim executive chairwoman.

But the cabinet minister came under fire from health experts who questioned the necessity of dismantling the country's major public health body - created in 2013 - amid fears of a second wave of the coronavirus.

The body provides government, local government, the NHS, parliament, industry and the public with evidence-based professional, scientific expertise and support.

"Certainly this is not what the Secretary of State believes or says in public or private".

Several key elements of PHE's work - such as tackling obesity, addiction and other prominent health problems - will be handed to councils, Global Positioning System and pharmacies.

Later, Mr Hancock admitted the details of the break of up of the body's responsibilities were still being worked out, telling the BBC: "We are going to set out in the coming weeks where the other responsibilities of Public Health England are being exercised".

"A strong public health sector is needed more than ever".

Responding to reports that Public Health England is to be replaced, a No 10 spokesman said: "We have always said we must learn the right lessons from the crisis and act to ensure Government structures are fit to cope".

He continued, "It's not clear that there has been any consultation with the devolved governments given that public health is a devolved responsibility".

"Undoubtedly, there are questions to be answered about England's handling of the Covid-19 crisis, but the middle of a pandemic is not the time to dismantle England's public health agency".

"In the long term tackling the slow, preventable epidemics caused by obesity, poor air quality or the social determinants of health are as important as tackling infectious diseases".

It will ensure the United Kingdom will be in an even stronger position to deal with and further recover from COVID-19, the strongest possible position to meet the health protection challenges over the coming winter and be more resilient to respond to future pandemics.

It has been the honour and privilege of my career to lead PHE.

But critics said if ministers are unhappy with PHE's performance, they have only themselves to blame as it is directly under ministerial control.

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