NRPB takes on UK government

3 September 2002

United Kingdom The UK's National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) is strongly resisting government efforts to merge it into a health protection agency. The NRPB fears that "layers of bureaucracy" could impede its ability to deliver speedy, impartial advice.

NRPB has developed a reputation for providing good, speedy advice both at home and abroad. It is very protective of this "international and national scientific expertise", and it believes that this expertise and research function can only be maintained by managing its own finances. The NRPB has argued for its retention in its current form, and suggested health ministers allow the NRPB to merely "coordinate its work" with the new agency.

A new national health agency was proposed in early January by the UK's chief medical officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, to counter the threat from infectious diseases brought into the UK from foreign travel, and biological, chemical and radiological hazards. The NRPB was named as one of four expert bodies to be amalgamated into the new Health Protection Agency (HPA). The others are: the Public Health Laboratory Service; the Centre for Applied Microbiology and Research; and the National Focus for Chemical Incidents.

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