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Public Health Wales appoints new National Director for Public Health Knowledge and Research

Public Health Wales, Wales’ National Public Health Institute, has appointed Iain Bell as the new National Director for Public Health Knowledge and Research to lead its work to build and mobilise data, knowledge and research to improve health and well-being across Wales.

Iain joins Public Health Wales in July from the Office for National Statistics, where he was formerly Deputy National Statistician and Director General for Population and Public Policy.

Most recently Iain has been heavily involved in leading the ONS’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the COVID-19 Infection Survey, which has been vital in monitoring and understanding the course of the pandemic across the UK, and also in running the successful 2021 Census in Wales and England in a COVID-19 safe and secure way.

Prior to that Iain worked in government, and was the Chief Data Officer and Head of Profession for statistics in the Department for Education. Over the course of his career he has also worked in government statistics spanning the labour market, government finance, transport, justice, work, pensions and education statistics, and has specialised in exploiting the power of longitudinal, administrative data alongside surveys to improve decision-making.

Dr Tracey Cooper, Chief Executive of Public Health Wales said: “I am delighted to welcome Iain to Public Health Wales as our new National Director of Public Health Knowledge and Research. This is a pivotal leadership role in Wales and Iain brings with him a wealth of skills and experience that will be invaluable to us and our partners as we continue through and beyond the Coronavirus pandemic.

“High quality and timely public health data, knowledge and research are essential to informing the evidence-based decisions, actions and policy development that is needed to ensure an equitable recovery for all of Wales. Building on the strong work of the team, I very much look forward to working with Iain as we support the people of Wales in creating a healthy and sustainable future.”

Iain Bell said: “All my career I’ve been passionate about social and public policy statistics, including crime, health, the environment, population and migration. I’m looking forward to developing the excellent work that Public Health Wales already does, and harnessing this to maximise the benefits for all users – from the citizen to the heart of government – to improve social policy in Wales and beyond.”

Iain graduated in statistics from Heriot-watt University and has enjoyed a successful career in government prior to joining Public Health Wales.