Great Britain

Public Health England chiefs secretly discipline 17 members of staff during coronavirus crisis

HEALTH RAPS

HEALTH chiefs under-fire over their handling of the coronavirus pandemic have secretly disciplined 17 members of staff during the crisis.

Public Health England (PHE) has been heavily criticised over its planning for the pandemic, which has claimed more than 41,500 lives in the UK.

And ministers are reportedly planning to replace the body with a new health agency to specifically deal with protecting the country from pandemics.

Documents obtained by The Sun on Sunday show how PHE chiefs have secretly disciplined scores of staff since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis.

In response to a freedom of information request, PHE revealed how it has “applied a disciplinary sanction” to 17 staff members between January and the end of July.

But it has refused to say what action it has taken or the reasons why.

It’s unclear if any of the cases are Covid-related.

PHE claims a breakdown would breach data protection laws.

Other documents show how there were just 22 discipline cases at PHE in the three years from 2016 to the end of 2018.

But the latest FOI response shows 17 members of staff have had a disciplinary sanction in the first seven months of this year.

Asked for a response and whether any of the cases were Covid-related, a PHE spokeswoman said: “Due to the low numbers it is considered that the release of this information could lead to deductive disclosure.

“Therefore, in accordance with Section 40(2)(a) of the (Freedom of Information) Act which relates to personal information, this information is exempt from disclosure.”

Head of NHS Test and Trace Baroness Dido Harding says up 27% of people turning up for coronavirus tests don't have symptoms

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