The government announced last month that a new body, the National Institute for Health Protection, would replace the work of Public Health England with immediate effect although the formal completion of this change will not occur until the Spring of 2021.

The new organisation is intended to bring together the work of Public Health England and NHS Test and Trace within one structure. Its focus is on boosting public health protection and the UK’s ability to respond to and manage infectious disease outbreaks, specifically Covid-19. It will also incorporate the Joint Biosecurity Centre, whose work is to provide the government with analysis and advice on the current pandemic.

Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care stated the following:

“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.”

Some organisations have, however, expressed concern over the loss of Public Health England.

Mind, the mental health charity, has expressed its disappointment at the lack of reference in Mr Hancock’s speech to measures to support public mental health, which has seen a downturn during the pandemic.

A joint statement by HIV and sexual health charities has called for clarity as to the future of Public Health England’s role in responding to these health issues.

Concerns have also been expressed by The Health Foundation as to the wisdom of introducing a new public health organisation in the middle of a pandemic.

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