A message from Duncan Selbie



A message from Duncan Selbie 1

Dear everyone

Today the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has announced the creation of the National Institute for Health Protection, a new organisation to address the next phase of the pandemic and a new chapter for the nation’s public health system. This effectively replaces Public Health England and therefore is a sensible moment for me to stand aside and create space for new leadership. A copy of the Press Release can be found here.

I wrote to colleagues in PHE on Sunday given media coverage of this news and you can see this message below for those who may have missed this.

The most obvious next priority is to secure the right and best future for all those other responsibilities of PHE that are not about health protection and I can assure everyone that there will be more on this to follow soon.

It has been the honour and privilege of my career over 41 years to lead PHE and I want to convey my heartfelt thanks to my colleagues for the remarkable contribution each has made to protecting and improving the public’s health over our 8 years together.

I have been immensely proud of what we do under intense public and political scrutiny always with professionalism and dignity and with the values that matter the most, decency, kindness and respect.

I wish Baroness Harding as the Chair of this new organisation and the transition every success, and I know everyone will be delighted to hear that Michael Brodie will be returning as the interim Chief Executive Officer to PHE, from tomorrow pending the appointment of a new leadership team.

And finally, be proud of what you do, always aim for the stars and look out for and after each other. You are the rock stars of the health and care system.

Best wishes, Duncan

Duncan Selbie | Chief Executive


Duncan Selbie’s message to PHE colleagues on Sunday 16 August:

Dear everyone

I am sorry beyond words at the way that decisions about our future have been briefed to the media before I have had the chance to explain them.

The Prime Minister and Secretary of State wish to recreate an organisation with a sole focus on health protection and to bring together our health protection services with the budgets and people of the NHS test and trace programme to create a new national institute for health protection. The aim is to boost our unique scientific capability and world leading health protection expertise with much needed new investment. The future arrangements for delivering everything else we do for the country including on health improvement and our corporate services will be worked through over the coming weeks and months and will, of course, include formal consultation and the proper HR processes to ensure this is handled transparently and fairly.

Any organisation that says it got everything right is wrong and no public health body enters a pandemic expecting to look the same as a consequence.

However, no one remotely close to our work of the past eight years, and since January on the pandemic would agree with the headlines that this change reflects “pandemic failure” on our part.

Certainly this is not what the Secretary of State believes or says in public or private.

No public body has done more to protect the health of the people than PHE nor has more reason to be proud of its contribution. Equally on health improvement over the years on cancer, tobacco, obesity and air quality amongst much more, and crucially in support of our colleagues in local government, the NHS and our work internationally on behalf of the UK.

I am expecting the official announcement to be on Tuesday and will say more then. I shall make every effort to speak to anyone who wants to ask me questions over the next few days.

I am immensely proud of what PHE represents and has achieved for the UK and of each of you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this and for your support through the years. No chief executive could have asked for more.