Government make decisions on health, not Public Health England, says Lord Lansley

16 August 2020, 11:29

By Seán Hickey

A former Health Secretary reminded listeners that Public Health England acts on the guidance of Matt Hancock, who is planning to dismantle it.

Former Health Secretary Lord Andrew Lansley told Iain Dale that Health Secretary Matt Hancock can't scrap Public Health England, despite his plans to do so.

The former Leader of the House of Commons and Conservative Life Peer doesn't understand "what he's attempting to achieve by this that couldn't be achieved by other means."

Lord Landsley added that "Public Health England is not an independent body," and "if the Secretary of State wants Public Health England to do anything, he simply tells it to do something."

"There is nothing in this proposal that would enable him in my mind to do anything that he can't already do with his existing powers," Lord Lansley noted.

He criticised Mr Hancock placing fault at the door of Public Health England. "Some of the blame has been placed upon Public Health England in circumstances where the decisions concerned were the decisions of government," Lord Lansley added.

The Health Secretary announced plans to replace PHE with a new body
The Health Secretary announced plans to replace PHE with a new body. Picture: PA

Ultimately, the former Health Secretary noted that "the decisions are the Secretary of State's," and not those of Public Health England.

With Mr Hancock announcing plans to replace the body with a German-style pandemic response agency. "I don't understand the analogy," said Lord Lansley, as the UK doesn't operate in a federal system as Germany does, although he acknowledged this is a plan of government to give local authorities more autonomy over pandemic response.

Iain argued that authorities are "useful whipping boys for politicians," with education authority Ofqual coming under fire for A-level grades.

Lord Lansley insisted that "public health is a government responsibility," and blame cannot be put at the feet of Public Health England.

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