Matt Hancock announces launch of National Institute for Health Protection in shake-up

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced the formation of a new organisation, the National Institute for Health Protection, to protect the nation’s health “now and in the future”.

Tuesday, 18th August 2020, 1:09 pm

Speaking at the Policy Exchange think tank, Mr Hancock confirmed that Baroness Dido Harding would head up the National Institute for Health Protection (NIHP) on an interim basis, while a “global search” begins for its permanent leadership team.

Making the announcement, the Health Secretary said: “To give ourselves the best chance of beating this virus and spotting and tackling other external health threats now and in the future, we need to bring together the science and the skill into one coherent whole.

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Matt Hancock delivered a speech at the think tank Policy Exchange titled The Future of Public Health. Picture: PA.

“So, today, I am announcing that we are forming a new organisation, the National Institute for Health Protection.

“The National Institute for Health Protection will have a single and relentless mission: protecting people from external threats to this country’s health.

"External threats like biological weapons, pandemics and, of course, infectious diseases of all kinds.”

The global coronavirus pandemic prompted the Health Secretary to take action, he continued, and look to launch an organisation specifically prepared to handle such threats.

The NIHP will combine the existing “talent and science infrastructure” with NHS Test and Trace and the work of the Joint Biosecurity Centre.

Mr Hancock added: “My single biggest fear is a novel flu, or another major health alert, hitting us right now in the middle of this battle against coronavirus.

“Even once this crisis has passed – and it will pass – we need a disease control infrastructure that gives us the permanent, standing capacity to respond as a nation and the ability to scale up at pace.”

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