Public Health England (PHE) is being replaced by a new body, the National Institute for Health Protection, which will be focused on preparing for external threats such as pandemics.
The new institute brings together PHE and NHS Test and Trace, as well as the analytical capability of the Joint Biosecurity Centre, under a single leadership team.
Cllr Ian Hudspeth, Chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “PHE staff have been working closely alongside their council counterparts, day and night, since this outbreak first emerged to contain and prevent the spread of this devastating virus, and they deserve all our thanks.
“This pandemic has highlighted the value of local knowledge, supported by national coordination and resources. A local response should be at the forefront of our approach to the next phase.
“Directors of public health in councils can boost their health protection and prevention roles, working alongside other council services, including environmental health, but this needs to be joined up with the new system.
“Councils have a proven track record in improving public health services over the past eight years. National policy-making has an important role to play, but this cannot be a substitute for local leadership and local responsibility.
“We need to establish where the core health improvement functions of any future public health system are best held, backed up by necessary funding.
“We will need to reflect on how we, as a country, responded to coronavirus – but, for now, our focus needs to remain firmly on how best to prevent and manage a possible second wave later this year.”