Matt Hancock to 'scrap PHE and replace it with German-style response agency'

15 August 2020, 23:15

Health Secretary Matt Hancock will announce this week a new body called the National Institute for Health Protection
Health Secretary Matt Hancock will announce this week a new body called the National Institute for Health Protection. Picture: PA

By Matt Drake

Public Health England (PHE) is to be scrapped and replaced by a German-style pandemic response agency, according to reports.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock will announce this week a new body called the National Institute for Health Protection, it is reported.

It is modelled on Germany's Robert Koch Institute and will be a merger of the pandemic response work of PHE with NHS Test and Trace, The Telegraph reports.

Mr Hancock wants to set up the PHE replacement before a feared surge in coronavirus cases in autumn.

Speaking to The Telegraph, a senior minister said: "We want to bring together the science and the scale in one new body so we can do all we can to stop a second coronavirus spike this autumn.

"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."

The source added that the new body will be in place by September.

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It comes after PHE has come under fire due to "exaggerated" coronavirus death figures.

The Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (CEBM) released a study which found that "no one ever recovered from Covid-19" due to the way PHE recorded Covid-related deaths.

Unlike how Covid deaths are recorded in Scotland, anyone who was ever diagnosed with coronavirus was registered as dying from the disease - even if it was months after they were first diagnosed.

The study prompted Mr Hancock to launch an inquiry to the reports.

Now the UK coronavirus death toll has been reduced by 5,000 as a result.

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