England’s public health body is to be scrapped and replaced by a new organisation set up specifically to deal with a pandemic, it has been reported.

England’s health secretary Matt Hancock will announce this week that the pandemic response work of Public Health England (PHE) will be merged with the health service’s Test and Trace programme, according to The Sunday Telegraph.

The paper said the new body will be called the Institute for Health Protection and will become “effective” next month, although it will take until next spring to complete.

The Conservative peer and former TalkTalk telcoms boss Dido Harding, who currently heads Test and Trace, is being tipped to lead the organisation, the paper said.

It quoted a senior minister as saying: “We want to bring together the science and the scale in one new body so we can do all we can to stop a second coronavirus spike this autumn.”

The reported move follows repeated reports over recent months that ministers have been unhappy and frustrated with PHE’s response to the coronavirus crisis.

A UK Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “Public Health England have played an integral role in our national response to this unprecedented global pandemic.

“We have always been clear that we must learn the right lessons from this crisis to ensure that we are in the strongest possible position, both as we continue to deal with Covid-19 and to respond to any future public health threat.”

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