Department of Health news

News story: UK to send NHS medics to help those injured by Gaza crisis
8 August 2014, 11:15 pm

The UK, which has already contributed over £17 million to help those affected by the conflict in Gaza, has activated its International Emergency Trauma Register to deploy a world class team of NHS staff directly to the region within the next 48 hours to help treat hundreds of those affected by the crisis.

Announcing the package, Prime Minister David Cameron said:

The conflict in Gaza has taken a terrible toll. The UK has been at the forefront of humanitarian efforts to help those affected and it is right that we see what more we can do. The NHS has always stepped up to the plate to help those in need and this expert team will play a crucial role in helping hundreds caught up in this conflict.

The initial team will be made up of a combination of doctors, nurses, surgeons, anaesthetists and paramedics from the specialties of emergency medicine, orthopaedic trauma surgery and plastic surgery.

They will initially be based with Medical Aid for Palestinians at Al Mokassed hospital, East Jerusalem. Once access to Gaza becomes possible, UK medics will then move there, with UK charities UK Med, Save the Children and Medical Action for Palestine facilitating this operation. The medics will co-ordinate with local health authorities, charities, the UN and Red Crescent, and other international medical teams. Medics will also explore whether there is need for them to assist elsewhere in the region.

Although the team’s primary objective will be to treat people in the region, as part of our commitment to the wider international humanitarian effort we are considering how we can best support those vulnerable people, especially children in need of highly complex treatment that is unavailable in the region including with specialist capabilities in the UK.

The UK has 16 expert trauma centres in England alone, with world-class expertise in paediatric trauma care. These centres provide complex reconstruction surgery, which often requires multiple operations over time, as well as burns treatment and other very intensive procedures.

Policy paper: DH and NHS BSA framework agreement
8 August 2014, 12:57 pm

This document outlines out how the department and NHS BSA will work together, setting out roles, responsibilities, governance and accountability arrangements.

News story: PHE reaffirms commitment to supporting Ebola outbreak response but risk remains low in England
8 August 2014, 10:30 am

Public Health England (PHE) has reaffirmed its commitment to supporting global efforts to arrest the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa following today’s World Health Organization (WHO) announcement.

The WHO Emergency Committee announced today (8 August 2014) that the ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa has met the conditions for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

WHO has made several recommendations for affected countries, which centre around them declaring a national emergency, activating national disaster and emergency management mechanisms, ensuring the provision of quality clinical care and improving the safety and protection that health care workers receive.

They also recommend that the affected countries should conduct exit screening for unexplained illness consistent with potential Ebola infection and that Ebola cases or contacts should not undertake international travel, unless the travel is part of an appropriate medical evacuation. For unaffected states the WHO confirmed there should be no general ban on international travel or trade.

For people in the UK, there is no change in the current risk assessment which remains very low. No cases of imported Ebola have ever been reported in the UK and the risk of any traveller to West Africa contracting Ebola is very low without direct contact with the blood or body fluids of an infected person.

PHE will continue to work with government colleagues, the WHO and a wide range of partners including UNICEF, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), to provide support to the affected countries. This includes deployment of 10 PHE staff to support international efforts and offer support on the ground in West Africa.

Within the UK, PHE has informed medical practitioners about the situation in West Africa and requested they remain vigilant for unexplained illness in those who have visited the affected area, and actions to take in the event of a possible case.

Dr Brian McCloskey, director of global health at PHE, said:

The measures recommended by WHO are needed to ensure everything that can be done to control the outbreak, is being done. We will continue to support global efforts to arrest the impact of Ebola in West Africa, including deploying Public Health England staff to the affected areas to provide strategic and public health support.

As we have seen with Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome, we have robust mechanisms in place for detecting and responding to any usual infections within the UK, but ultimately the best possible defence will be ensuring the outbreak in West Africa is brought under control.

Though it is possible a case could be identified in the UK in a person returning from an affected country, this is unlikely. Even if a case were identified, there is minimal risk of it spreading across the general population as UK hospitals are well prepared to handle infectious diseases. Ebola causes far more harm in countries with less developed healthcare facilities and public health capacity.

Ebola is a form of viral haemorrhagic fever and currently more than 1,500 cases have been reported in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, of which there have been more than 900 deaths. This is the first documented Ebola outbreak in West Africa, and it is the largest ever known outbreak of this disease.

Timeline of events:

  • February 2014 – outbreak of a haemorrhagic illness in south-east Guinea
  • March 2014 – outbreak of Ebola confirmed in south-east Guinea
  • Later that month, tests confirm Ebola has spread into Liberia
  • May 2014 – Sierra Leone confirms Ebola has spread to the Kailahun district, east of the country
  • June 2014 – MSF declares the Ebola outbreak is out of control
  • July 2014 – first case of Ebola confirmed in Nigeria
  • July to August 2014 – 2 cases diagnosed in American healthcare workers in Liberia, both have been evacuated to the US for treatment

PHE has published a risk assessment of the current Ebola outbreak for the UK resident population and UK citizens in West Africa.

PHE has also published advice for humanitarian workers working in the affected areas and also a general information factsheet.

More information on Ebola is available from NHS Choices.

Corporate report: Healthcare UK review of 2013-14 and business plan for 2014-15
7 August 2014, 11:11 am

This slide deck summarises Healthcare UK’s performance against the targets set for 2013 to 2014 and highlights the main points of the business plan for the current year.

This information was first presented at the Healthcare UK business forum on 24th July 2014.


  • review of Healthcare UK’s 2013 to 2014 performance
  • business plan for 2014 to 2015
  • opportunities for digital health in China
  • future priorities for Healthcare UK – opportunities in the Pacific region

News story: Healthcare UK reports significant progress in its first 18 months
7 August 2014, 10:01 am

Managing Director Howard Lyons has announced that Healthcare UK far exceeded its targets for last year.

British organisations have secured £556 million of healthcare contracts during 2013 to 2014, £200 million more than the target set for the year.

Healthcare UK has assisted over 600 organisations, double the target, and has organised more than 60 missions, high level meetings and events.

Speaking at the recent Healthcare UK Business Forum, Mr Lyons commented

With such an encouraging start, confidence is high that UK healthcare organisations will capitalise on the £10 billion pipeline of healthcare opportunities identified over the last year.

The UK is set to play a leading role in the development of health systems and infrastructure, improving the quality of healthcare delivery for our valued international partners in China, Brazil, India and the Middle East.

Over 80 participants from private companies, NHS organisations and public bodies attended the business forum. They discussed the plans for Healthcare UK in the coming year, including opportunities in China and the potential for UK organisations in South America and Indonesia.

Healthcare UK review of progress 2013-14

News story: Ebola: government response
30 July 2014, 4:37 pm

Updated: Updated following further meeting of COBR

An Ebola outbreak was confirmed in Guinea in March 2014 and quickly spread to Liberia.

Ebola haemorrhagic fever is a rare but severe disease caused by the Ebola virus. Ebola is highly transmissible by direct contact with organs or bodily fluids of living or dead infected persons and animals.

The UK government is closely monitoring the outbreak in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. This is the largest outbreak of the Ebola virus in recent times and there are no reports of British citizens being infected.

On 7 August, the Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, chaired a further meeting of COBR to discuss Ebola and the current situation in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. Ministers and officials from across Whitehall and other relevant organisations attended. Medical advice remains that the risk to the UK is very low. The UK has an established, well-tested system to deal with any known or suspected imported case of this disease. Read the full statement.

Should I be worried about this outbreak?

This is not an issue that affects the UK directly. We have experienced scientists and doctors – the Royal Free Infectious Disease Unit, the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine – and a lot of experience of dealing with dangerous diseases. The risk of this disease spreading fast in the UK is much lower because of that.

The UK government is taking precautionary measures and looking at capability but is confident that the UK has experienced people who are ready to deal with anything if it were to arrive here.

Listen to Chris Whitty, Chief Scientific Adviser at the Department for International Development giving an overview of the outbreak so far, and outlining what the UK is doing to help contain the virus.

Read the latest assessment of the outbreak in West Africa and an assessment of the situation in the UK by Public Health England.

Following a meeting of government committee COBR, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said:

We’ve looked at how we are co-ordinating with our French and American colleagues under the World Health Organisation; we’ve considered what additional measures the UK could take to help control the outbreak in West Africa; and we’ve also looked at what measures we need to put in place on a precautionary basis in case any UK nationals in West Africa should become affected by the disease.

We do not, at the moment, think this is an issue that affects the UK directly.

What are the arrangements at the border?

Guidance has been issued to front line Border Force staff on how to identify and safely deal with suspected cases of Ebola. It makes clear what steps need to be taken should a passenger arrive at the border unwell.

If a person is identified at the border as being a potential carrier they will be immediately referred by a Border Force officer to a specialist medical care provider and reported to public health authorities.

Travel advice

Travellers to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea are advised to follow the health advice issued by the National Travel Health Network and Centre.

Get the latest travel advice for Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

Government actions to help affected countries

In Liberia and Sierra Leone, the Department for International Development is making a £2 million package of assistance available to partners including the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) and Médecins Sans Frontières that are operating in Sierra Leone and Liberia to tackle the outbreak.


Infographic: How UK aid is helping to tackle Ebola in West Africa

This latest round of funding is in addition to support the UK has been providing since the outbreak of the disease in February 2014.

In Sierra Leone and Liberia the UK has been supporting agencies to increase awareness and understanding of the disease within the community, to improve treatment for those infected and to prevent its spread within and across borders. This includes working with the WHO to train health workers and provide the supplies they need to tackle the outbreak.

The UK has also funded initiatives to improve public information, including radio messaging programmes, on the outbreak in Sierra Leone to help control the spread of the disease.

In Liberia the UK has provided chlorine and other materials for hygiene and sanitising.

Other organisations helping to contain the outbreak

International agencies such as Médecins Sans Frontières, UNICEF, WHO, the UN Population Fund, USAID and the Red Cross have all been on the ground helping the health services of the countries affected. The international community has contributed more than £2 million in aid, including £300,000 from the EU.

Get the latest advice and information if you are a humanitarian aid worker.

On 2 and 3 July WHO convened a meeting in Accra to coordinate regional activity and develop an Ebola virus response strategy. The UK government is supporting this process.

Consultation outcome: Supplying asthma inhalers to schools for emergency use
7 May 2014, 10:45 pm

Updated: The outcome of the consultation has been published

MHRA is asking for feedback on proposals to allow the supply of salbutamol asthma inhalers in schools for emergency use.

The aim of the proposal is reducing deaths and distress from asthma. The consultation has been jointly produced by the UK Health Departments and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Transparency data: DH senior officials international travel: 2013 to 2014
24 January 2014, 1:41 pm

Updated: Updated to include expenses from January to March 2014.

This data is for DH senior officials at Senior Civil Servants level 2 (SCS2), director level, or equivalent grades. It includes bookings made through the department’s central booking system. This will include the majority of travel undertaken. Some bookings may have been made through other systems. Work is ongoing to ensure that this data is incorporated into future reports.

During the transition from the previous reporting systems some travel data for SCS3, director-general level, and higher grades is available at DH business expenses

Transparency data: DH business expenses for 2013 to 2014
17 October 2013, 12:50 pm

Updated: Updated to include business expenses from January to March 2014.

Business costs that have been incurred in pursuit of the department’s aims and objectives for 2013 to 2014.

Guidance: Department of Health: Honours nomination form and guidance
24 June 2013, 3:17 pm

Updated: Updated to call for Queen’s birthday nominations

The Department of Health considers nominations for candidates who work in the health and care sector, for example:

  • health care workers
  • doctors
  • social care providers
  • clinical scientists
  • nurses
  • NHS chief executives

The deadline for submitting nominations for Birthday 2015 honours is Friday 12 September.


We want you to nominate people who have made a difference in their field of work or community – people who have gone that extra mile.

The department trawls twice a year for nominations usually around February and July for a period of about 5 to 6 weeks.

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