Joint directors of public health should be appointed

Councils and primary care trusts should jointly appoint directors of public health wherever possible, health secretary Patricia Hewitt said this week.

Delivering the Faculty of Public Health’s annual lecture, she said the current PCT review would ensure coterminous boundaries between councils and trusts in many areas, removing barriers to joint appointments and improving partnership working.

Local directors of public health are primarily PCT appointments, with about 10 per cent accountable to both bodies, despite local government’s key role in health improvement and wellbeing.

The Association of Directors of Public Health welcomed the call. President Tony Jewell said joint appointments were “the way of getting local public health leadership”.

Hewitt also said council sport and leisure services were not used enough by GPs to improve their patients’ health.

And she called for council health scrutiny committees to be strengthened in holding PCTs to account and “addressing the democratic deficit” in the NHS.

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