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Duncan Selbie's Friday message - 16 March 2018

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Dear everyone

You will all be more than aware of the ongoing concerns in Salisbury and it felt right this week to focus solely on this.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Theresa May visited Wiltshire and Salisbury and as part of this spent time in PHE Porton, meeting some of our team who have been involved in the response from the very start. She later gave testament to our contribution in her public statement to the media.

Many people, even those familiar with PHE, are probably unaware that over 2000 of our staff are scientists who work at the cutting edge of technology in infectious disease and other biological and environmental hazards to life. Half of them live and work in Wiltshire. We are not only responding to this outrage – we care about what happens and public safety is our number one priority.

We are working closely with many other agencies including Wiltshire Council and Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust, and also across government and with the police and security services.

While many people are following the unfolding story, for some it has directly impacted their daily lives including our own local staff. Places they eat, streets they walk every day and their homes and workplaces have been affected. Throughout we have provided accurate and proportionate advice to the people of Salisbury and are attending various community events as well as working with the media to support this.

It is clear that this substance can have a serious immediate effect on those who have a significant exposure but in contrast the general public who were in the vicinity could only have been exposed to extremely small traces, if any.  Our advice, continually reviewed through an ongoing risk assessment, remains that the risk to the public is low and we will respond with any further advice as necessary. Our full advice is online here.

Obviously our thoughts are with Police Sergeant Nick Bailey, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter Yulia who are under the exceptional care of the NHS.

In the meantime, I cannot sufficiently thank those PHE staff, in London and in Wiltshire who have been working flat out and we will remain fully engaged until Salisbury is completely back to normal.

Best wishes,




Friday messages from 2012-2017 are available on GOV.UK

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  1. Comment by Diana Knight posted on

    Re: Duncan Selbie's letter to The Times on Thurs March 15th, I would like to put forward the idea that as well as having information on the calorific and nutritional content of food there should be an empty footprint logo with the carbon footprint value of the food, i.e. the amount of carbon output generated by the production of that food/item.

    That way we could make choices as to the amount of environmental damage caused in the production.

    We are doing an 'Eco' lent course under the guidance of our vicar Rev Canon Sandie Barton, who is the representative for the diocese, and this came up in our last session.

    Diana Knight
    The Manor, Barton Mills, Suffolk, IP 28 6BL Tel: 01638 711274