Health security from the ground up

Think tank: Reform

Author(s): James Sweetland; Hashmath Hassan

August 3, 2023

This report from UK think tank Reform presents five major policy ideas for UKHSA.

This report from UK think tank Reform sets out some of the key flaws in England’s public health response to COVID-19 and the lessons that should learnt to build greater resilience to future health threats. The English response to COVID-19 was overly centralised, neglecting local public health assets which could have vastly improved England’s pandemic performance. This national-first approach, characterised by poor communication and limited data sharing with local public health, undermined efforts to trace the path of the virus and reach those communities at greater risk. Embedding the right lessons from the pandemic is essential to ensuring the UK’s response to future health threats is fit for purpose. With health threat response now being taken forward by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), after the abolition of Public Health England, embedding these lessons is essential as the agency rolls out its new strategy. This paper presents five major policy ideas for UKHSA – from embedding local-national data sharing and strengthening the support offered to local Community Champions, to ensuring better scientific balance and shifting UKHSA’s approach to reflect models from around the world.