When COVID-19 emerged and then led to thousands of deaths in the UK compared to far fewer in many other nations, understandably some people began to call for a public inquiry and the Government claimed that it was not appropriate or suitable for such a thing to take place, given that we were and indeed still are in the middle of COVID-19. However although they are not prepared to set up an inquiry or set out a review of their own actions they have now decided to close down the Public Health England agency and re-invent it as another organisation because right now, changing such bodies is clearly a great way for them to blame other people for what they have done wrong. I happen to know a couple of the senior people in PHE and have no idea what they must be feeling like, given that they have been working very hard since the beginning of this year. One wonders if someone should step up and at the very least question if now is the right time to make major changes to our nations health infrastructure? My contacts are the PHE Chief Executive, Duncan Selbie who used to lead the Brighton and Hove based NHS Trust and seemed competent then, and one of his senior workers is Yvonne Doyle who I know from my time at the South East England Regional Assembly (SEERA) and she is certainly very competent.
Since I first wrote this blog I saw a tweet from a friend of mine who was retweeting a message from Dr Phil Hammond who wrote “@PHE_uk is under direct control of @MattHancock. If it has failed, he has failed. The National Institute for Health Protection is simply the Health Protection Agency we used to have before it was merged into @PHE_uk in 2012 with 40% budget cuts. Hancock will still be in charge”
Another of my friends pointed out the following text which explains that the PHE was established by the coalition Government led by Andrew Lansley in 2013 so it was formed and now closed down by the same political party which is rather concerning.
We are an executive agency of the Department of Health and Social Care, and a distinct organisation with operational autonomy. We provide government, local government, the NHS, Parliament, industry and the public with evidence-based professional, scientific expertise and support….Public Health England was established on 1 April 2013 to bring together public health specialists from more than 70 organisations into a single public health service.
Another more recent tweet which comes from a Doctor is from a lady called Sarah Wollaston who was a Conservative MP until December 2019. She tweeted
Reminder that @PHE_uk is the only bit of the health service directly under govt control as an executive agency. Seeking to scapegoat them is extraordinary after cutting public health funding for years & excluding local directors of public health from decion making on COVID