Responding to the Secretary of State for Health’s speech on the future of public health, Nigel Edwards, Chief Executive of the Nuffield Trust said:
“The Government risks making a major misstep by dismantling its own Public Health agency at such a crucial time, creating a huge distraction for staff who should be dedicating themselves to the next stage of the pandemic. There is no clear argument as to why this rebranding and reshuffling will solve some of the problems highlighted by the Secretary of State today.
"There is no doubt that Public Health England is far from perfect: serious questions should be asked about the agency’s role in some of the failures around testing, contract tracing and PPE in the early stages of the pandemic. But the correct way to respond to these questions is a proper and evidence-led investigation of what went wrong across Government. Without this, we risk a disproportionate response to problems that could be dealt with through straightforward managerial action.
"Simply dismantling and reconstituting an agency, under the direct control of the same ministers and department as previously, doesn't seem to hold out much hope of improvement. It also raises many important questions. What exactly will happen to the many other functions of the agency beyond infection control? If Public Health England's disease control arm has struggled at times, why should merging it with equally struggling Test and Trace programme lead to an improvement for either one?”
Notes to editors
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