Local leadership, and ‘going live’

Duncan Selbie notes the strength of local leadership across PHE, and is looking forward to ‘going live’.

I am enjoying meeting local government leaders, chief executives and their senior teams as well as clinical commissioning groups, public health teams and the local NHS up and down the country. In the past ten days I have been welcomed in Wiltshire, Hampshire, the North West, Southend, and Gloucester. The challenges each face vary enormously, but the common denominator is their enthusiasm and determination to ensure the new public health system, led locally by local government, tackles inequalities and delivers real improvements to the public’s health. Everyone is up for this – as anyone would agree who attended the District Council Network’s public health event at which their new publication, District Action on Public Health, was launched on Tuesday. Already local teams are pooling expertise, experience and resources and, combined with existing good practice and the spirit of innovation which I am seeing everywhere, this is the unique factor that is going to make all the difference. I am not underestimating the challenges ahead, but equally I am not overestimating the local leadership who will overcome them. My warm thanks to all those who have made me so welcome and for openly sharing their experience and ambitions.

I am also glad to say that we have appointed a successor to Dr Tony Sannia, the retiring Director of Finance and Resources who has supported the HPA from the beginning ten years ago and who has nurtured PHE in its early development. Michael Brodie, currently Finance Director of the NHS Business Services Authority in Newcastle, will be our new Finance and Commercial Director and he will take up post in June. Now that the national team is complete, you may find it helpful to see this in an organogram. You will see that we have renamed Professor Kevin Fenton’s directorate as Health and Wellbeing (rather than Health Improvement and Population Health), to better reflect the breadth of his responsibilities and match the nomenclature understood and used in local government and by Clinical Commissioning Groups.

With most of the work to bring people safely into PHE and into local government now accomplished, it really does feel like PHE is ready to ‘go live’. Building on our national ‘Go Live’ event in January we are arranging local centre and regional ‘Go Live’ events to further develop the narrative for how PHE will best add value to the frontline and nationally, across Government and with Industry. There is such a feeling of opportunity in the air, I would encourage as many people as possible to get to one of these events and join in the discussion.

And finally, on enquiring yesterday of the Southend Stop Smoking Team as I was leaving how successful they had been that day, they solemnly informed me they had managed not to go out for a smoke. Not quite the answer I expected!

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