National Institute for Health Protection

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Group.png UK Health Security Agency   WebsiteRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Jenny Harries.jpg
Dr Jenny Harries, CEO of UKHSA
Formation1 April 2021

The National Institute for Health Protection (NIHP) is a UK government agency which was launched on 18 August 2020 and merges some of Public Health England's COVID-19/Pandemic response work with the coronavirus test and trace system. The NIHP will work with all four chief medical officers in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland as well as closely with local authorities, answering directly to the Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock.

Baroness Dido Harding, who runs NHS Test and Trace in England, was the interim chief of the NIHP,[1] and was replaced by Dr Jenny Harries CEO of UKHSA on 1 April 2021.[2]

On 24 March 2021, Matt Hancock tweeted:

On the 1st April 2021 we will formally establish the new UK Health Security Agency.
UKHSA will be this country’s permanent standing capacity to plan, prevent, and respond to external threats to health.[3]

On the same day, the Department of Health and Social Care announced:

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) will be formally established from April 2021 and will combine the capabilities of PHE and NHS Test and Trace. The UKHSA will bring together our national public health science and response capabilities, including cutting edge analytics and genomic surveillance, strengthening our national defences against all health hazards.[4]

UKHSA will act as a system leader for health security, providing intellectual, scientific and operational leadership at national and local level, as well as on the global stage. It will be close to policy making and able to exert influence over the system to ensure threats to health security are acted on and brought under control. It will continue and build on successful ongoing cooperation and collaboration with the devolved administrations including public health agencies for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The change, from our initial working organisational name of the National Institute for Health Protection to the UK Health Security Agency, gives a clearer sense of the critical role this new body will play in safeguarding all our health, and of its role and value for the whole of the UK.[5]


In a speech on 18 August 2020, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the NIHP "will have a single and relentless mission", which will be "protecting people from external threats to this country's health". He said this would include "external threats like biological weapons, pandemics, and of course infectious diseases of all kinds".


Role of National Institute for Health Protection:

Critical tweets

Munira Wilson, the Liberal Democrat's health, wellbeing and social care spokesperson criticised the decision to promote a "Tory insider who's been responsible for the sub-par Test and Trace system". She said in a tweet that "total transparency" was needed when it came to such appointments.[7]

Labour's shadow health minister Justin Madders said in a tweet that there had been "no transparency or accountability" in Baroness Harding's appointment.[8]

Parody Boris Johnson tweeted:

I'm delighted to confirm Dido Harding as head of our new Public Health agency, after she passed our recruitment checklist:
a) track record of failure
b) Tory peer
c) no experience in public health or medicine
d) friend of Matt Hancock[9]

On 24 March 2021 Carl Sullivan tweeted:

Replying to @MattHancock
NHS privatisation is a reality.
No pay rise for NHS staff.
37 GP surgeries taken over by Centene a US insurance group.
Gov't keeps on lying, cutting £30 billion from the NHS starting next month. Brexiteers believed £350 million per week, an obvious lie.[10]