A new UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) to plan for, prevent and respond to external health threats such as infectious diseases will be led by Dr Jenny Harries, the government has announced this week.
The UKHSA – previously the National Institute for Health Protection – will be the UK leader for health security, providing intellectual, scientific and operational leadership at national and local level, as well as on the global stage. It will ensure the nation can respond quickly and at greater scale to deal with pandemics and future threats.
The primary focus for the UKHSA in its initial phase of operation will be the continued fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
It will bring together the country’s cutting-edge capabilities in data analytics and genomic surveillance with scale testing and contact tracing capability – combining key elements of Public Health England with the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC), and NHS Test and Trace.
Formally established in April 2021, the UKHSA will be chaired by Ian Peters, currently Chair of Barts Health NHS Trust and former Chief Executive of British Gas, Managing Director of NatWest Small Business Services, and chairman of several data-driven growth technology companies.
Dr Harries has previously served on the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) and brings a wealth of public health knowledge and expertise gained from working in the NHS and local government at local, regional and national levels. She played central roles in the UK’s response to COVID, Ebola, Zika, monkeypox, MERS and the Novichok attacks.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:
Dr Jenny Harries, incoming Chief Executive, UKHSA said:
Ian Peters, incoming Chair, UKHSA said:
Dr Harries will leave her role as Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England in April to become UKHSA Chief Executive. She will take over from current Executive Chair of NHS Test and Trace Baroness Dido Harding after a handover period through April, while PHE’s Interim Chief Executive, Michael Brodie, will remain in post to lead delivery of PHE’s health improvement and healthcare public health functions and support the transition.
Executive Chair of NHS Test and Trace, Baroness Harding said:
Interim Chief Executive of Public Health England, Michael Brodie added: