Dido Harding

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Person.png Baroness Dido Harding   Companies House Powerbase SourcewatchRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Dido Harding.jpg
BornDiana Mary Harding
Alma materUniversity of Oxford, Harvard Business School
ParentsLord Harding
SpouseJohn Penrose
English businesswoman with strong ties to the UK health bureaucracy. Led several important parts of the UK government's plans in the COVID-19 deep event, including "Test and Trace" and similar programs.

Employment.png UK Health Security Agency/Head

In office
18 August 2020 - 1 April 2021

Employment.png NHS Improvement/Chair

In office
30 October 2017 - 17 June 2021

Employment.png Head of NHS Test and Trace

In office
7 May 2020 - 1 May 2021

Employment.png Genomics England/Chair

In office
December 2019 - 30 April 2020
Succeeded byNicola Blackwood

Employment.png Non Executive Director

In office
September 2014 - Present
EmployerBank of England

Employment.png TalkTalk/CEO

In office
February 2010 - May 2017

Employment.png Member of the House of Lords Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
September 2014 - Present

Diana Mary "Dido" Harding, Baroness Harding of Winscombe is an English businesswoman who is Chair of NHS Improvement.[1] She is married to Conservative Party MP John Penrose and has two children.[2]

On 7 May 2020, Baroness Harding was appointed to head up the programme of testing and tracing as part of the UK government’s ongoing response to COVID-19, and will lead on the new NHSX app; swab and antibody testing; contact-tracing; and national surveillance as well as immunity certification. She said: “As we move to the next phase of the government’s plan, I am confident that we can use the very best of our tech, research, and people power to help keep COVID-19 at bay.”[3]

Briefcase Michael tweeted: "Dido Harding is very competent and capable says Jeremy Hunt. Customers of TalkTalk of which she was CEO might beg to differ." #r4today @BBCr4today[4]

On 18 August 2020, Baroness Harding was appointed interim chief of the newly-formed National Institute for Health Protection (later named the UK Health Security Agency) which merges some of Public Health England's Covid-19 pandemic response work with the coronavirus test and trace system.[5] Management consultants McKinsey, who have been awarded £563,000 to advise on the “vision, purpose and narrative” of the NIHP,[6] are the former employers of both Dido Harding and her husband John Penrose.[7]

Senior Executive

Dido Harding was named CEO of TalkTalk in 2010,[8] during the period when the group split its Carphone Warehouse retail operation from the group telecoms operation.[9] She was appointed Non Executive Director at the Bank of England in July 2014.[10]

In October 2015, TalkTalk experienced a "significant and sustained cyber-attack", during which personal and banking details of up to four million customers is thought to have been accessed.[11] City A.M. described her responses as "naive", noting that early on when asked if the affected customer data was encrypted or not, she replied: "The awful truth is that I don’t know". Her "inflexible line" on termination fees was also criticised.[12] Marketing magazine ran a headline, "TalkTalk boss Dido Harding's utter ignorance is a lesson to us all".[13] The Evening Standard noted that "It has been a tough week for TalkTalk boss Dido Harding, facing complaints from customers and calls for her head."[14] The company admitted the hack had cost it £60 million and lost it 95,000 customers.[15]

In February 2017, Baroness Harding announced she would stand down after seven years as CEO of TalkTalk in May 2017, to focus more on her public service activities.[16]

NHS Improvement

In October 2017 Baroness Harding was appointed chair of NHS Improvement, which is responsible for overseeing all NHS hospitals, comprising foundation trusts and NHS trusts, as well as independent providers that provide NHS-funded care.[17]

In May 2020, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that Baroness Harding was to be put in charge of the "Track, Test and Trace" effort as part of the UK government's response to the COVID-19/Pandemic.[18]

Bella Caledonia queried her suitability:

Question: If you were in the middle of a pandemic which was killing people, destroying the national economy, sapping the wellbeing of the entire population and condemning the elderly to endless solitary confinement, who would you NOT put in charge of your major UK health strategy? Answer: Baroness Dido Harding of Winscombe, who is now responsible for the UK government’s ‘Track and Trace’ system in her capacity as head of a body wittily known as ‘NHS Improvement’.[19]

NHS England?

In June 2021, a Change petition was raised strongly opposing Dido Harding being appointed as Chief Executive of NHS England:

Dido Harding has applied to become the new CEO of NHS England. She has stepped down from being head of NHS Improvement and Test and Trace to pursue this goal. She has overseen £37 billion in spending which some have described as the biggest squandering of public money in history. A new CEO faces huge challenges in restoring the NHS post COVID-19. It will require a person of the highest calibre, integrity and competence, with authentic experience in the culture, ethos and values of the NHS. There is a huge backlog of elective surgery to be addressed. There are tens of thousands of vacancies in the NHS. There is a demoralised and exhausted workforce still recovering from the impact of the pandemic on both their mental and physical well-being. The incredible staff of the NHS need a CEO who understands their concerns, will act as their advocate and will act independently of party politics. Dido Harding would be incapable of that. She is deeply connected to the Conservative Party and would be unlikely to act impartially.

She has no knowledge or background in healthcare. Her record in the private sector could not be described as successful. Her tenure as head of Test and Trace has been an unmitigated disaster.

We say no to Dido Harding as the new Head of NHS England.[20]


Event Participated in

Bilderberg/20169 June 201612 June 2016Germany
The 2016 Bilderberg meeting took place in Dresden, Germany.


Related Documents

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:Britain’s creeping cronyismArticle1 September 2020Richard Norton-TaylorThe culture of the Johnson government may be very different from that of Whitehall’s “permanent government”. But the two have one thing in common, lack of accountability and addiction to official secrecy.
Document:Senior spy appointed to lead UK’s joint biosecurity centreArticle5 June 2020Helen Warrell
Sarah Neville
Devi Sridhar, chair of global public health at Edinburgh University, says: “The virus is not worried that you’re tracking its progress, it’s not going to change its tactic. Cybersecurity is not your worry with a virus. It’s a biological phenomenon.”
Document:Track and Trace. Stay Elite.Article29 May 2020David BlackPoor Dido was pressed into service early by Boris and the lads when she launched her Track and Trace initiative some days ahead of its scheduled June 1st slot in a ludicrously transparent attempt to draw fire from Corporal Cummings, whose lockdown breaching escapades were causing havoc in Tory ranks.
Document:Why the NHS Covid-19 contact tracing app failedArticle19 June 2020Matt BurgessOn 18 June 2020, Matt Hancock announced that the planned centralised NHS Covid-19 contact tracing app, which has been trialled on the Isle of Wight and downloaded by tens of thousands of people, has been ditched in favour of a decentralised system developed by Google and Apple.
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