News story

Government invests £350 million to create world-class public health labs in Harlow

Chancellor announces significant investment to be made in public health science with the creation of new world-class public health labs in Harlow.

The investment will see part of Public Health England move from its existing ageing facilities at Porton Down into the new labs at Harlow, to continue their vital work in tackling some of the biggest issues in public health.

The new facilities, based on the site currently owned by GSK (GlaxoSmithKline), will create a leading centre for research, health improvement and protection allowing the continued development of world leading work on international health threats, such as Ebola.

The new location in Harlow ensures Public Health England are well placed for collaborative work and engagement with a range of academia and the life sciences industry, with some of the best in the UK being based in the local area.

Making the announcement while visiting the site of the new labs in Harlow, Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne said:

This investment is crucial for the future of research and innovation in public health. Moving PHE from their current facilities into new labs here in Harlow is not only the right thing to do for the future of health research, but it’s the right decision for the taxpayer. I look forward to seeing the development of these world-class facilities and the important role they’ll play in keeping Britain safe.

Health minister Jane Ellison said:

We saw from the Ebola epidemic how important it is to be ready to respond to emerging health threats and protect the nation. This significant investment in public health science will keep the UK at the forefront of the work for global health security.

Public Health England Chief Executive, Duncan Selbie said:

This is a big step forward for UK public health science. Giving our world leading scientists world class facilities, located in the region with the greatest concentration of academic and commercial expertise in life sciences, will ensure we can deal with the health challenges we face now and are certain to in the future.

The decision from the government comes following Public Health England’s submission of an Outline Business Case to the government in July 2014. A decision on the further Public Health England facilities in Colindale, London will be considered as part of the Spending Review.