FILE PHOTO: Britain’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock arrives at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), ahead of a cabinet meeting to be held at the FCO, for the first time since the COVID-19 lockdown in London, Britain July 21, 2020. Stefan Rousseau/Pool via REUTERS
(Reuters) – Britain’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock will announce that Public Health England (PHE) will be scrapped and replaced by a new body specifically designed to protect the country against a pandemic by early next month, The Telegraph newspaper reported.
Hancock will announce a merger of the pandemic response work of PHE with the National Health Service (NHS) Test and Trace into a new body, called the National Institute for Health Protection, the newspaper said. (bit.ly/3fZLmE6)
The move is aimed at bringing together the science expertise at PHE and scale of the NHS Test and Trace operation in one new body, so that the country can be prepared to stop a second coronavirus spike this autumn, according to the Telegraph.
“The National Institute for Health Protection’s goal will be simple: to ensure that Britain is one of the best equipped countries in the world to fight the pandemic,” a senior minister told the Telegraph.
The newspaper added that the change will be “effective” within the next month but it will take until the spring to formally complete the organisational change.
The new institute will be modelled on the Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s public health agency, which played a pivotal role in responding to the pandemic, according to the newspaper.
PHE has come under increasing scrutiny in Britain for its handling of the COVID-19 crisis. The government adopted a new way of counting fatalities after concerns were raised that the old method followed by PHE overstated them.
Reporting by Bhargav Acharya in Bengaluru; Editing by Daniel Wallis