LONDON

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced on Tuesday that he will abolish a key body within the country’s National Health Service (NHS) in order to pave the way for a new body dedicated to responding to pandemics. 

Hancock said he will abolish Public Health England, and combine it with NHS test and trace, to create the new National Institute for Health Protection.

He said in a speech: “The National Institute for Health Protection will have a single and relentless mission, protecting people from threats to this country’s health.”

“We need a disease control infrastructure that gives us a permanent standing capacity to respond as a nation,” Hancock said.

“We need an institution whose only job is to look out with constant vigilance to prepare for and respond to external threats like a pandemic.”

The National Institute for Health Protection will focus on the threats of biological weapons and infectious diseases.

The UK is widely acknowledged to have dealt with the pandemic poorly compared to other developed nations, and the government seems to be passing the blame onto Public Health England.

Critics say Public Health England is already under the health secretary’s control, and so the Conservative government cannot evade responsibility.

Conservative Baroness Dido Harding, who is currently in charge of the government’s contact tracing operation, will lead the new body temporarily, and then find a permanent successor.

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