Lincolnshire public health boss to be shared with neighbouring authorities

Lincolnshire’s Director of Public Health will expand his role to cover North and North East Lincolnshire as part of a new pilot.

The project, approved on Wednesday by Lincolnshire County Council’s Adults and Community Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee, will see Professor Derek Ward seconded to the two northern authorities for 18 months, taking on the responsibility for more than 1.1 million people.

North and North East Lincolnshire are currently covered by acting directors of public health, and it is hoped sharing resources would “align public health arrangements with the economic geography of Greater Lincolnshire” and create “a more efficient and effective model”.

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Glen Garrod, Executive Director Adult Care and Community Wellbeing, at Lincolnshire County Council said: “If we operate at a wider footprint, those resources could possibly be distributed better and some of the skills better used.”

Professor Ward told councillors the benefits included bringing all three organisations under one strategic direction.

It would also increase the number of health consultants across Greater Lincolnshire from two to six.

He said: “There’s no sense in doing this unless we’re going to improve the offer and the health and wellbeing of the people of greater Lincolnshire.”

Under the pilot LCC would still employ Professor Ward and pay his wages, but North and North East would contribute towards the costs.

Funding and grants would remain ringfenced to each of the three authorities.

Committee chairman Coun Hugo Marfleet welcomed the pilot, pointing to the “complicated system” of different boundaries and healthcare providers already in place, and adding that it would be “a start to a new collaborative working”.

“There’s so much that we can learn from both those two authorities. They do things in a way that we can’t do things, they have much closer urban workings and they’ve got areas of deprivation that will actually help reform even our areas along the coast to support them better.”

However, some councillors had concerns Professor Ward’s focus would be split.

Coun Tracey Carter said: “[The report] tells us that it provides an experienced public health leadership, well actually we have that already in Derek and so to me by us sharing him as the lead DPH we’re actually reducing our dedication from him because it’s shared with other people.”

She said a lot of the sharing proposed “should be happening anyway”

Former Lincoln MP, Labour Councillor Karen Lee added: “This should not be just about saving money. I fully accept that we have to be careful with money, but it should be about getting good value for money.”

Councillors were keen for bosses to report back to the committee regularly about the pilot.

The decision will now go before Executive in February.