Dido Harding won’t get paid to run Matt Hancock’s new PHE replacement

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Dido Harding won’t get paid to run Matt Hancock’s new replacement for Public Health England, the Mirror has learned.

The Tory peer has also been working as head of the NHS Test and Trace programme on a voluntary basis.


Other than a £25-30,000 salary as chair of NHS Improvements, Baroness Harding draws no government salary.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock today appointed Baroness Harding to oversee his carve-up of Public Health England and the formation of the new National Institute for Health Protection (NIHP).

Under Baroness Harding’s leadership, NHS Test and Trace has seen many of its responsibilities shifted to local authorities.

The £10bn programme, which Boris Johnson promised would be “world beating” was formed to track the spread of coronavirus by contacting people who had been exposed to Covid-19 sufferers and telling them to self-isolate.

But the most recent figures showed national call centre and online contact tracers were only contacting around half of the people it needed to – compared to 98% when the work was done by local health protection teams.

The figures followed reports that national call centre staff were only making a handful of calls every month, while contact tracers working for local Public Health Directors were overwhelmed with work.


Starting next Monday, the national call centre staff will be placed into teams linked to individual councils, with the test-and-trace effort taking a more “localised” approach.

Baroness Harding was also in charge of implementing the Test and Trace app, which was first announced in April.

After an initial trial on the Isle of Wight costing more than £11 million, the government were forced to admit it didn’t work and had to return to the drawing board.

A replacement app, using Google and Apple’s contact tracing infrastructure, began trials last week – four months on from its original announcement. There is no announced launch date for the app, and ministers have since said it is “not a priority.”

Lib Dem MP Layla Moran, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on coronavirus, said: “Given we still don’t have an effective Test, Trace and Isolate system, this feels like a reward for failure.

“The Health Secretary has undermined public trust in this new agency before it’s even been launched. Serious questions must be answered over the timing of this decision at a time we should be focused on preparing for a potential second wave.“

Before being handed a job as chair of NHS Improvement, Baroness Harding was boss of phone and internet firm TalkTalk.

It was on her watch in 2015 that the firm suffered one of Britain’s worst ever data breaches – which saw 157,000 customers’ personal data, including bank details, stolen by hackers.

It was handed a record fine of £400,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office for “abdicating its security obligations”.

Asked what qualified Baroness Harding for the new role, considering her record and lack of medical background, Mr Hancock told the Mirror: “I have no doubt that under Baroness Harding, we will found the NIHP as a thriving mission-driven organisation.”



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