Mr Hancock published an open letter to all health and social care professionals in England promising to “scythe away bureaucracy that is disempowering to the brilliant, highly motivated staff who want to get on with caring for patients”.
He wrote: “We need to break down the silos that exist between providers and trusts of all kinds, and we need local authorities and the NHS to work together and be accountable together to local people.”
It follows from the announcement of the Health Secretary’s “Bureaucracy Challenge” last month, which promises to scrutinise all new regulations to “ask if it makes sense given the realities of modern, integrated healthcare”.
On Monday night, Duncan Selbie, who has led PHE since its creation in 2013, appeared to confirm the reports of a significant restructuring.
In a note to staff, seen by Health Service Journal, he wrote: “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 re-create 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.”