Iain Dale challenge Matt Hancock's former advisor over new health institute

18 August 2020, 20:30 | Updated: 18 August 2020, 20:41

By Fiona Jones

Iain Dale challenges Matt Hancock's former advisor on whether today's announcement of a new health institute was merely to distract from the "exams fiasco."

The Health Secretary has unveiled the National Institute for Health Protection, a health body which has been created after the scrapping of Public Health England.

"This has been announced with undue haste, hasn't it? It couldn't be anything to do with distracting people from the exams fiasco?" Iain asked.

Richard Sloggett is the former SpAd to Matt Hancock and senior fellow at the think tank Policy Exchange at which the move was announced - he denied these claims.

"The main message from the speech today...was this idea of accountability and he was very clear in his speech that actually the accountability for pandemic responses and public health responses of this nature sits with ministers," Mr Sloggett said.

"Public Health England is the executive agency, it reports to ministers and it is directed by ministers and it's right that ministers are responsible," he continued, "[Mr Hancock's] trying to create and set up a match fit system for the winter."

The Health Secretary felt it was the "right time" to combine the public health agency, the test and trace system and a "biosecurity centre", Mr Sloggett told Iain.

Iain questioned whether some organisations are best left separated but the think tank fellow responded that the Health Secretary "wants these agencies to be brought together to hammer away at these threats, including pandemics."

"He believes having a focused agency to deal with that at this time is the right approach. The challenge that creates doing this now mid-pandemic could create some structural change which creates uncertainty," Mr Sloggett said, highlighting that these issues will need to be "worked through."

READ MORE: Public health professors scrutinise Hancock's National Institute for Health Protection

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