Responding to the Secretary of State for Health’s speech today on the future of public health, Nick Ville, director of policy at the NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across the healthcare sector, said:
“Introducing structural reform of this scale during the middle of a global pandemic is a risky move and the proof will be in the pudding for whether it will lead to the urgent improvements that are needed to our national test and trace system.
“The main focus needs to be on local delivery and to not get distracted as this is a crucial time for the NHS as it restarts non-urgent treatments and other patient services while preparing for what is expected to be a very challenging winter. How this new body can keep the further spread of coronavirus at bay over the coming months will be key to the service’s success in the midst of a pandemic
“If the National Institute for Health Protection can deliver on its mission to provide a more agile, alert and joined up response to protecting our country from infectious diseases and other external health threats, both at scale while making the best use of local expertise then health leaders will welcome it with open arms. But this has to be more than shifting deckchairs.
“It is also vital that other key responsibilities of Public Health England’s are maintained and delivered including its work on obesity, smoking cessation, physical activity, alcohol and drug dependence, air pollution and antimicrobial resistance. We hope to see a compassionate style of leadership for PHE’s staff in taking this forward that recognises the important work they do and secures the future of national health protection and health improvement work.”