Northumberland County Council’s approach to public health has been described as ‘exceptional’ by the chief executive of Public Health England (PHE).
The praise comes as Duncan Selbie, chief executive of PHE, has been touring the country to meet local authorities to gain a more detailed understanding of the issues affecting local health services. He visited Northumberland County Council to find out more about the work that is going on locally and to share best practice from other areas.
During his visit, he met a number of strategic health partners including David Evans, chief executive of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust; Daljit Lally, deputy chief executive of Northumberland County Council; Julie Ross, chief officer at Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group; and Cynthia Atkin, chairman of Healthwatch Northumberland.
Mr Selbie said: "Northumberland is well advanced in how it integrates health and social care and its concerns for improving the health of people. There is a lot to be proud of and lots to do but the team here is exceptional and I'm delighted to have been able to spend some time here and to see what has been done and is still being done in Northumberland.”
Northumberland County Council took over the provision of public health services from the NHS in 2013. Director of public health, Penny Spring, from Northumberland County Council, said: "It’s great that we have had a visit from the chief executive and shared our experiences with him. We are committed to improving the health and wellbeing of all residents in Northumberland. As the largest and most rural county in England, we face many challenges and working together with community groups is an essential part of our goal to improve health outcomes and reduce inequalities."
PHE's role is to protect and improve the public’s health and reduce health inequalities, and Mr Selbie also met representatives from community groups to hear first-hand about their work to boost health across the county.
Coun Susan Dungworth, cabinet member for adult care and public health at Northumberland County Council, added: "The visit has been extremely useful, offering the head of Public Health England the chance hear from some of the health activists who are doing such valuable work promoting better health initiatives in Northumberland."
Mr Selbie met a number of groups including health activists Jan Casson from the Berwick Children’s Centre, Jane Pannell, a trustee at the Glendale Gateway Trust, and Jen Hall a community volunteer and parish councillor from Beadnell.
Jane said: "This is all about feeling better about everyone’s communities, seeing work that needs doing and putting people's energies into that and making things happen. There are some excellent opportunities working with PHE to improve health in our communities and it’s all about communities saying what will help them and what will make a difference. It's also about linking up diverse groups and building on our combined energies."