New agency could be bad for health

Serious concerns raised over UK government's haste in setting up new Health Protection Agency.

Pete Moore(pete.moore@dial.pipex.com)
Sep 11, 2002

Monday 16 September sees the deadline for voicing opinions about the Chief Medical Officer's plans for a radical overhaul of the systems that safeguard public health in England and Wales. His aim is to fold four key agencies into one, and experts in public health believe they have cause for concern.

The idea is to amalgamate the Public Health Laboratory Service (PHLS), the National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB), the Centre for Applied Microbiology and Research (CAMR) and the National Focus for Chemical Incidents (NFCI) into a new Health Protection Agency (HPA).

Most experts agree that the current set-up is less than optimal and welcome any attempt to strengthen public health protection. But many are anxious that the pace of change is too fast to be safe — the Chief Medical Officer seems determined to complete the changes by 1 April 2003. The Board of the PHLS believes that, at the...

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