New joint role on the cards for Director of Public Health

The County and City Councils are proposing to create the role of a joint Director of Public Health in what is one of the first arrangements of its kind in the country.

The County Council’s Policy Committee will meet on 14th November to discuss plans for Dr Chris Kenny to take on the role. He is currently the Director of Public Health in Nottinghamshire County and the proposal is that he will take over the responsibility for the City area as well.

Both local authorities will take over the public health function from the NHS in April 2013 which covers areas such as tobacco control, alcohol and drug misuse and obesity.

The joint arrangement would mean that both public health teams can work together to commission services, such as sexual health services, which avoids duplication and will lead to more efficient use of public resources. It would also help to tackle cross border problems where there are similar issues in the county and city e.g. drug misuse.

If the plans are approved, Dr Kenny would have overall responsibility for public health in both Nottinghamshire County and Nottingham City, but will manage two separate teams in both local authorities. Both public health budgets would remain separate.

However, the senior public health staff from both authorities would meet regularly as a virtual team to ensure the most efficient and effective way of working.

Coun Kay Cutts, Leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “This arrangement makes perfect sense. Not only will this save money, but it will also mean that both public health teams can work together to deliver better services. We will also retain control of our local budget and will be able to focus on the needs of our own Nottinghamshire residents. The public health staff will still be employed by the County or City Councils from April next year, which means that they can pass on their expertise, skills and knowledge to our staff.”

Coun Jon Collins, Leader of Nottingham City Council, said: “We have seen how there can be advantages of cost and efficiency in sharing services with other councils and that clearly seems to be the case as we prepare to assume responsibility for public health from the NHS next year. There are undoubtedly some public health issues which may be more prevalent in the city, and these arrangements will allow us to continue to focus attention on those, while ensuring we can also deal sensibly with cross-border issues.”

Dr Chris Kenny said: “I am looking forward to this challenge. Both areas have different needs and it will be my overall responsibility to ensure that these are met. I will also help both public health teams to work together where possible to make the most efficient and effective use of public health resources in the city and county.”