Knowsley and Sefton to share key Public Health role

Published on: Tuesday, 15-March-2016

Knowsley and Sefton Councils have agreed to “share” a Director of Public Health in a move which is likely to see both local authorities collaborating on key health and wellbeing initiatives.a

The new arrangement will commence from immediate effect, and will see Matthew Ashton, the current Director of Public Health and Assistant Executive Director (Health and Wellbeing) in Knowsley take on a joint position spanning both areas.  Matthew will split his time across both areas, providing visible leadership across the patch and encouraging a more ‘joined up’ approach to tackling health issues.

The role will be funded equally between both councils and will therefore also result in savings for both authorities.

Both councils have confirmed their commitment to making this new arrangement work for the benefit of residents in both Knowsley and Sefton and said they would not rule out further collaboration in the future.

Councillor Eddie Connor, Knowsley Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, commented:

“Everyone is aware of the budget challenges local authorities are facing.  Despite the Government’s commitment to protect health services, public health is an area where national funding cuts are also being made.  Knowsley’s Public Health Grant in 2017/18 will be £2 million less than it was in 2014/15 and our service has already had to change significantly.  I know that Sefton face exactly the same kind of pressures.

Collaborative working is something we have been looking into across all services for some time.  Linking in with our neighbouring areas is one way of tackling our financial issues and sharing senior management costs is a good way to reduce our budgets without impacting on the quality of services and support we are providing.

Health issues know no geographical boundaries, so we are more than confident that Matthew’s strong and effective leadership in Knowsley will now go on to benefit residents in Sefton too.”

Matthew was appointed as Knowsley’s Director of Public Health in August 2013 after carrying out the role on an interim basis since October 2012.  The creation of a new organisation to manage leisure services in Knowsley means that Matthew is able to step away from some of his additional responsibilities in Knowsley to provide the capacity needed to carry out the joint role.

Matthew has worked in Knowsley since 2005, having previously acted as Deputy Director of Public Health.  He has also held positions at the North West Public Health Observatory/Centre for Public Health, Liverpool John Moores University and at the Health Protection Agency North West.

Cllr Ian Moncur, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member Health and Wellbeing said:

“Through this means of working, we know that we are getting an excellent candidate who can share his experience across both councils.

I am confident that Matthew will be able to help us shape Public Health for the future as we continue to look for the most efficient and effective ways to deliver better health and wellbeing for our communities.

Matthew has many years’ experience behind him and we look forward to welcoming him to his new role with Sefton.”