TOP TRENDING

Government AX PHE and replace it with a new institute run by former jockey baroness Dido Harding


Matt Hancock today officially ditched Public Health England after a string of bugs during the coronavirus crisis – handing the reign of his replacement to an unscientific Tory colleague whose husband has called for PHE to be abolished.

Questions have been raised about Baroness Dido Harding's appointment as interim chief of the new National Institute for Health Protection (NIHP) despite recently being in charge of the government's disastrous test and trace program.

Harding, who was peer-reviewed by David Cameron and previously headed the Talk Talk wireless company, oversaw the disastrous launch of the government's contact tracing app, which was delayed by months due to technological issues.

The Minister of Health announced the appointment of the 52-year-old in a speech today as he confirmed the end of PHE. The remnants of PHE will be incorporated into the unified command structure of the NIHP, which will also include the Joint Biosecurity Center – an agency that was established in May and left the cabinet office.

Mr Hancock said the institute, which will begin its work today and report directly to him, would have a "single and relentless mission: to protect people from external threats to the health of this country such as biological weapons, pandemics and infectious diseases of all kinds ".

Independent experts have questioned the decision to appoint Baroness Harding instead of a scientist. One said the move made as much sense as the appointment of Chris Whitty (England's chief medical officer) to head Vodafone – and others say PHE is wrongly shouldering the blame for the government's response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Harding's husband, Tory MP John Penrose, is also a board member of think tank & # 39; 1828 & # 39; which has published several reports calling for the phasing out of PHE.

But Mr Hancock said the formation of the NIHP gave the UK “the best chance to beat this virus and identify and combat other external health threats now and in the future”.

PHE has been blamed for a wide variety of errors in the UK's Covid-19 response, including incorrectly counting thousands of virus deaths and failing to increase testing capacity fast enough.

Local health directors have also criticized the beleaguered government agency for refusing to share regional infection data. One of them described the body this morning on Radio 4 Today program as "obstructive pain in the a **".

PHE mistakes include:

  • Miscount of at least 5,000 Covid-19 deaths due to statistical error;
  • Scrapping widespread testing and contact tracing at the start of the crisis;
  • Refusal to share regional infection data with local health authorities;
  • Ignoring offers from universities and scientific laboratories to scale tests.

Baroness Harding is a former horse jockey who served on the board of directors in Cheltenham

Matt Hancock officially ended public health today England was canceled today after a series of mistakes during the coronavirus crisis. He appointed Baroness Dido Harding (right) as interim head of the new National Institute for Health Protection

Baroness Harding's husband, Tory MP John Penrose, is a board member of think tank & # 39; 182 & # 39; which has issued several reports calling for the abolition of PHE

Baroness Harding's husband, Tory MP John Penrose, is a board member of think tank & # 39; 182 & # 39; which has issued several reports calling for the abolition of PHE

Convoluted Organization: Duncan Selbie is the current CEO of PHE. It is unclear how many of its employees will be retained when it merges into the new National Institute for Health Protection

Convoluted Organization: Duncan Selbie is the current CEO of PHE. It is unclear how many of its employees will be retained when it merges into the new National Institute for Health Protection

PUBLIC HEALTH ENGLAND CORONAVIRUS ERROR

Public Health England has come under fire for a number of its responses to the Covid-19 crisis.

Directors have tried to divert the blame, claiming that important decisions were made by government ministers at the Ministry of Health, but the agency has been accused of being in control.

These are some of the mistakes PHE has been blamed for:

Stopping mass testing and tracking

On March 12, the government announced it would stop testing anyone suspected of having coronavirus and stop tracking the contacts of most cases in an attempt to stop the spread of the disease.

As a result, the UK effectively stopped tracking the virus and allowed it to spiral out of control.

Conservative MP David Davis said that was "just the wrong thing".

Professor Yvonne Doyle, PHE's medical director, told MPs in May: "It was a decision made because of the sheer scale of the cases in the UK."

She added, "We knew we would certainly need more capacity if this epidemic continued to grow."

PHE said, "Widespread contact tracing stopped because increased community broadcast meant it was no longer the most useful strategy."

Count deaths inaccurately

Last month it was found that Public Health England had counted coronavirus deaths by reviewing a list of people who had ever tested positive to see if they were still alive.

The cause of death or the time since the test was positive were not taken into account and the agency was accused of "exaggerating" the number of people who died each day.

A health department investigation into the method removed 5,000 deaths from the UK's official list.

The statistical error was reported by Professor Carl Heneghan of Oxford University and Dr. Yoon Loke from the University of East Anglia revealed.

Since then, Matt Hancock has aligned the numbers with Scotland and Northern Ireland, which attribute Covid-19 deaths only if they occur within a month of their diagnosis.

Lack of contact tracking capacity

Articles published by government scientists on SAGE showed PHE was only able to handle five new cases per week on February 18.

At this point, only nine cases had been diagnosed.

PHE experts said the modeling suggested increasing the capacity tenfold to 50 new cases a week, contacting 8,000 people a day.

SAGE said, "If there is sustained transmission in the UK, contact tracing is no longer useful."

In early March, cases in the UK rose by 50 every day.

Antibody tests pawned in March

PHE professor Sharon Peacock said on March 25 that the UK is well on its way to making antibody tests available to the public this month.

It confirmed that the government had bought 3.5 million of the tests and assessed their quality.

They could be available to the public "within a few days," she said at a briefing on Downing Street.

However, three months later, they are still not a reality. Officials have since decided that there are no tests available that are good enough and there is no evidence that the results will be of any use to the public.

Testing efforts have been slowed by the "centralized" laboratory approach

Scientists at private laboratories, universities and research institutes across the country said in April that their offers to assist with coronavirus testing had fallen on deaf ears.

Only eight PHE laboratories and some in NHS hospitals were used to analyze tests at the beginning of the crisis.

Little ship laboratories had tools to run tests and could have quickly increased testing capacity if officials had agreed to work with them.

However, it took the UK by the end of April to run more than 100,000 tests a day. Germany had mastered the feat for weeks with private laboratories.

PHE says it has not prevented any public, university, or commercial laboratory from doing anything or attempting to control tests for Covid-19.

It claimed it asked officials to change testing methods in January to allow any testing facility to run diagnostic tests.

Hancock spoke in the Policy Exchange think tank this morning about creating a new organization, the National Institute for Health Protection, to protect the country's health "now and in the future."

He said the new organization will have a single mission: "Protecting people from external threats to this country's health" such as pandemics and biological weapons.

Duncan Selbie will leave his role as Managing Director of PHE and be named Senior Advisor to the Department of Health and Welfare for Global and Public Health.

Baroness Dido Harding is supported in her role by Michael Brodie, who has since been appointed Interim Chief Executive Officer of PHE. He is currently the head of the NHS Business Services Authority.

The Liberal Democrat MP and chairman of the all-party group for coronavirus Layla Moran described the appointment of Harding as head of the new body as a "reward for failure".

She said, "Given that we still don't have an effective test, trace and isolation system, this seems like a reward for failure." The Minister of Health undermined public confidence in this new agency before it was even launched. "

The government test and trace app that was overseeing Baroness Harding finally launched last week after months of delays. The developers originally shunned Google and Apple technology in favor of a bespoke app that ultimately turned out to be inoperable.

Independent experts have questioned the decision to appoint Baroness Harding instead of a scientist.

Dr. Michael Head, a senior research fellow on global health at Southampton University, said. Her new role "makes about as much sense as appointing Chris Whitty as Vodafone Head of Branding and Corporate Image," he said.

This was an indication of Harding's lack of public health experience and her previous role as head of cell phone giant TalkTalk.

The British Medical Association has warned ministers that the new body must be "completely independent of political influence".

However, other experts have accused the government of using PHE as a scapegoat.

Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of the prestigious scientific journal Lancet, tweeted this morning: “Well. Goodbye then PHE. You have campaigned for public health against governments that have cut public health budgets for over a decade.

“And now you must be to blame for one of the worst national reactions to Covid-19 in the world. Strange no? & # 39;

Dr. Amitava Banerjee, professor of clinical data science at University College London, told the Telegraph: “PHE was established by a Conservative government as the executive agency of the Department of Health and Welfare and is politically controlled and reports directly to the Secretary of State for Health and Welfare.

"If the PHE falls short, the responsibility rests firmly with the current government and ministers of health."

Jonathan Ashworth, secretary for shadow health, described PHE's hiring as "irresponsible" and "desperately relocating".

He tweeted: “Last year ministers set out PHE's priorities. You didn't mention preparing for a pandemic …

& # 39; Structural restructuring in the middle of the pandemic is time-consuming and saves energy. It's risky, irresponsible indeed.

PHE was conducted in 2013 as part of the NHS Conservative reorganization. It replaced the Health Protection Agency (HPA). The agency says on its website that it is "operationally autonomous".

Government papers show that it "was responsible for ensuring that effective arrangements were in place for emergency preparedness, planning and response".

The same documents published prior to their creation in 2012 make it clear that the Ministry of Health will hold them accountable.

PHE's work on obesity and other public health issues will be delegated to local councils and general practitioners.

Baroness Harding was the CEO of Talk Talk when the telecommunications company suffered one of the UK's worst data breaches, with hackers stealing personal information from 157,000 customers.

She also pioneered the failed NHS test and trace system, which is still struggling to find 50 percent of the close contacts of Covid-19 patients who are at greatest risk of infection.

Her husband, Tory MP John Penrose, is also a board member of think tank & # 39; 182 & # 39; which has published several reports calling for PHE to be phased out.

Professor Paul Hunter, professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia, told the Telegraph, “The organizational culture needed for effective science is not the same as that needed for government bureaucracies or commercial organizations.

'In this regard, it is noteworthy that the President of the RKI (the German equivalent of the new health protection institute) is himself a highly valued scientist.

"So if we have to have a new health protection organization, please finance it appropriately, please this can be science-oriented and please this can be scientifically directed."

Baroness Harding led telecommunications giant TalkTalk when it suffered a massive cyber attack in October 2015 when hackers accessed 157,000 customer details, including bank account numbers.

The Information Commissioner's Office fined £ 400,000 for the breach, which ultimately cost the company an estimated £ 77 million.

In 2016, the ICO imposed a record fine on TalkTalk for security deficiencies that had "easily" enabled access to customer data, including around 15,656 bank account numbers.

Britain's New Covid Queen to Head the Test and Trace Program: Baroness Dido is the wife of Tory MP who grew up on a pig farm (and thinks there is too much maternity leave).

Former TalkTalk CEO, who led the company when it was hit by a £ 80 million cyber attack in 2015, will lead the UK's coronavirus test and trace program, due tomorrow should start.

Baroness Dido Harding of Winscombe, 53, grew up on a pig farm in Somerset and is the granddaughter of Field Marshall Lord Harding, the desert rat commander who became the oldest soldier in the British Army.

As a former jockey, she studied politics, politics and economics alongside David Cameron at Oxford University and is the wife of John Penrose, the Conservative MP for Weston-super-Mare.

After graduation, she held a number of roles at Thomas Cook, Woolworths, Tesco and Sainsbury & # 39; s.

Baroness Harding was named CEO of TalkTalk in 2010 and served in that role for seven years. During that time, the company was the victim of a cyber attack that captured the personal and banking information of 157,000 customers accessed by hackers.

After the hack, she was repeatedly blackmailed, requesting bitcoins in exchange for stolen data, including customer names, email addresses, cell phone numbers, home addresses and dates of birth.

As a result, TalkTalk was fined £ 400,000 for security breaches that allowed data to be accessed “without any hassle” in one of the largest data breaches in history.

TalkTalk is believed to have lost £ 60million to the fallout, with an estimated 100,000 disgruntled customers, mostly BT, leaving, while 2015 profit halved to £ 14million and stocks lost nearly two-thirds of their value.

Baroness Harding faced repeated calls to resign for the violation but remained in place until 2017 when she resigned to focus on her "public service activities".

Later that year she was named chairman of NHS Improvement, which is responsible for overseeing all NHS hospitals.

As a powerful figure, she refuses to believe that her gender ever held her back, nor will she advocate female quotas on corporate boards, which she views as political interference.

She also believes workers have too much maternity leave, although she has to admit that as a boss, she can successfully balance her own career with the time with the two daughters she has with her husband.

In a 2015 interview, she said: & # 39;I have an extremely privileged position.

"I make a lot of money – a matter that is publicly known – I have a lot of help and I have more control over the day and my work than someone who works at the cash register or runs a supermarket product department."

Baroness Harding has also had a career as a jockey, performing in Cheltenham, Ascot and even there The towering Grand National jumps on Aintree.

In a particularly bad fall over the sticks in Larkhill, she was strapped to a backboard – although she still managed to catch a flight to a conference in Thailand the next day.

But at the age of 24, she made a hasty promise to her husband – she would give up everything at 40.

When the date came, Penrose, who hadn't forgotten, made it clear that breach of contract was a deal breaker for marriage.

Harding committed, but still rides without jumps.

"I miss the race a lot," she admitted earlier. “If you told me I could go ahead and do it tomorrow afternoon. For me it was always my way of switching off and relaxing. & # 39;

Now it is the head of the government's coronavirus traceability program.

The NHS Test and Trace System for England calls for anyone who develops symptoms to be asked to self-isolate and be tested. The close contacts of those who turn out to be positive for the disease are then quarantined for 14 days, even if they are negative and are not sick.

The system will be rolled out without the core of the NHS contact tracking app, raising concerns that without the new technology, the government could struggle to fight the spread of the disease.

Experts immediately said the complexity of the program meant that there could be "multiple sources of error" while the government's political opponents said ministers should never have given up tracing contacts in the first place.

Mr Hancock said that sticking to self-isolation is "initially voluntary" but that he "can quickly make it compulsory if it is what it takes".

He told the daily Downing Street press conference, “If you are contacted by NHS Test and Trace and instructed to isolate, you must do so. It is your civic duty to ensure that you do not unwittingly spread the virus and break the chain of transmission. & # 39;

The start of the program was announced by Boris Johnson during an appearance before the Liaison Committee this afternoon when he admitted that Britain's testing ability was inadequate at the start of the outbreak because the "brutal reality" was that Britain had not "learned" the lessons had & # 39; previous pandemics.

Baroness Harding is currently the Chair of NHS Improvement and has held senior positions at Tesco and Sainsbury & # 39; s throughout her career.

After a period at Tesco, where she held various senior roles in both the UK and international companies, she was appointed to the Sainsbury's Board of Directors in March 2008.

Her retail experience was enhanced by her time at Kingfisher plc and Thomas Cook Limited.

She was also a director of British Land Company plc and a trustee of Doteveryone. Baroness Harding is also a member of the UK's National Holocaust Foundation Board.

She became peer in August 2014 and has served on the Lords Economic Committee since July 2017.

Her husband is Weston-Super-Mare Conservative MP John Penrose and she is a mother of two.

Aside from politics and economics, she is a jockey and racehorse owner who served on the board of directors of Cheltenham Racecourse.

Sefton Central Labor MP Bill Esterson also condemned Harding's appointment today.

He said, & # 39; Dido Harding is a Tory peer and ran the discredited, centralized Test and Trace (program).

& # 39; She has been appointed to lead the agency that will replace Public Health England (PHE).

Her husband, Tory MP John Penrose, is a board member of a think tank calling for PHE to be abolished. Connect the dots! & # 39;

Mr Penrose – MP for Weston-Super-Mare – is on the advisory board of Think Tank 1828, which describes itself as a neoliberal platform established to promote freedom.

Articles critical of PHE have been published, including one that stated, "We need to think very carefully about whether Public Health England should have a future at all."

In the earlier Thought Article, the health authority was accused of "having decided that their control of the tests, regardless of the very human consequences, is more acceptable than any outside assistance".

Another story is titled "Let's Take Back Control of Public Health England".

They are referred to as "joyless nanny extras" before saying, "This incessant control freak from PHE is bad news for corporations, too."

None of the pieces were authored by Mr Penrose and he has previously stated that he does not agree with all of the articles.

He said in July, “I wrote a few plays for 1828 and was asked to join their advisory board in April, but I have yet to attend a meeting.

“Like any good independent think tank, they publish a range of political ideas.

"I don't necessarily agree with everyone, especially if they contradict the commitments made in the NHS manifesto, which I was elected to six months ago."

PHE's recent mistake forced the government to remove 5,000 Covid-19 deaths from its official count.

The Department of Health and Welfare (DHSC) cut the number after an urgent review of PHE's calculation of the daily Covid-19 death toll.

Scientists found that PHE's methods resulted in victims who tested positive and then died of other reasons being added to the list – even after they had fully recovered from the virus.

The crude method meant that even people who beat the disease and were hit by a bus months later would be included in the toll.

The statistical error was reported by Professor Carl Heneghan of Oxford University and Dr. Yoon Loke from the University of East Anglia revealed.

Dr. Loke said at the time, “This statistical error is due to the fact that PHE chose a quick and easy technique.

& # 39; Your statistical method is pretty accurate at the start of the pandemic, when there weren't many people in the community who had survived Covid.

"However, PHE has not – and not yet – realized that glaring inaccuracies occur when tens of thousands of frail elderly people are discharged from hospital, and these Covid survivors are unfortunately dying from other non-Covid-related causes."

Since then, Matt Hancock has aligned the numbers with Scotland and Northern Ireland, which attribute Covid-19 deaths only if they occur within a month of their diagnosis.

PHE has also come under fire for handling the UK's coronavirus testing system, which it was responsible for at the start of the Covid-19 crisis.

Directors have tried to divert the blame, saying that government ministers at the Ministry of Health are making important decisions, but the agency has been accused of being in control.

On March 12, the government announced it would stop testing anyone suspected of having coronavirus and stop tracking the contacts of most cases in an attempt to stop the spread of the disease.

As a result, the UK effectively stopped tracking the virus and allowed it to spiral out of control.

Conservative MP David Davis said that was "just the wrong thing".

Professor Yvonne Doyle, PHE's medical director, told MPs in May: "It was a decision made because of the sheer scale of the cases in the UK."

She added, "We knew we would certainly need more capacity if this epidemic continued to grow."

PHE said, "Widespread contact tracing stopped because increased community broadcast meant it was no longer the most useful strategy."

Hancock, who chairs the new body today, added, “To have the best chance of fighting this virus and identifying and combating other external health threats now and in the future, we need to bring the science and skills together into one cohesive whole .

“Today I announce that we are forming a new organization, the National Institute for Health Protection. The National Institute for Health Protection will have a single and relentless mission: to protect people from external threats to the health of this country. External threats such as biological weapons, pandemics and of course all kinds of infectious diseases. "

Mr Hancock said the new institute would play a role across the UK and be dedicated to "the study and prevention of infectious diseases and external health threats".

He said: “The National Institute for Health Protection will also work closely with the decentralized administrations, taking over existing roles across the UK and assisting all four senior physicians in accessing the best scientific and analytical advice.

& # 39; By bringing these parts of the system together, we can get more than the sum of the parts. And the mission, this mission, has a purpose, so we have a stronger and tighter response to protect the people and the communities they live in.

& # 39; It will be dedicated to the study and prevention of infectious diseases and external health threats, that will be its mission. It is designed in a crisis, but will help maintain vigilance for years. & # 39;

(tagsToTranslate) Dailymail (t) Nachrichten (t) Coronavirus