Public Health England shake-up brings data focus

Written by Jim Dunton on 25 May 2017 in News
News

Executive agency announces shift in focus to surveillance, data, evidence, research capability and policy expertise.

New Health Improvement Directorate is being created. Photo by Fotolia 

The Department for Health’s executive agency responsible for health and wellbeing is to create a new directorate bringing together eight teams from two disbanding directorates starting from 1 June.

Public Health England’s new Health Improvement Directorate will be led by Prof John Newton, currently chief knowledge officer, and will combine teams from his existing directorate and the Health and Wellbeing Directorate.

PHE said around 1,000 staff would make up the new directorate – roughly 20% of the agency’s current headcount – but no-one would be required to relocate from their current workplace.

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It said the refocusing was aimed at allowing the organisation to “closer align surveillance, data, evidence and research capability with policy expertise”.

The teams being brought together are: Alcohol, Drugs and Tobacco; Diet and Obesity; Health Equity and Mental Health; Healthy People; Screening and Quality Assurance; Knowledge and Intelligence; National Disease Registration; and Research, Translation and Innovation.

PHE said the new directorate was being created as a result of its business plan and remit letter from public health minister Nicola Blackwood.

The move follows the publication in April of a tailored review of PHE, which was created in 2013 as part of former health secretary Andrew Lansley’s coalition government-era reforms of health provision, bringing together 100 different organisations – the largest of which was the Health Protection Agency.

The review was overseen by a project board chaired by NHS Blood and Transplant chief executive John Pattullo. 

Its overall finding was that the PHE is making good progress with integration work since it came into being in April 2013, however 11 recommendations for improvement were made.

Areas where action was suggested included streamlining of reporting and decision-making lines to address “long and complex management chains within PHE” that were reported as “potentially undermining clarity”

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