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Integrating services further

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This is my first column as the chief executive of Wirral Council, which like other local authorities, is in the process of taking over responsibility for public health services. 

Since joining Wirral in September, I have been particularly impressed with the public health network for Cheshire & Merseyside, known as ChaMPs.

This is an excellent example of how different organisations are coming together to maximise capacity and efficiencies during difficult financial times. Wirral is the lead authority for the network, which covers 2.4 million people in a mix of rural and urban economies, and we are hoping to expand this to deliver on an even wider footprint. In April 2013, we will launch a collaborative public health service, which will not only offer cost and quality benefits to each local authority but importantly, help us to reduce health inequalities and improve health across the Cheshire and Merseyside areas.

The nine local authorities involved with the network have now agreed to fund the service, which will be made up of four key components; commissioning, advice to clinical commissioning groups (CCG), health protection, and support functions such as social marketing campaigns.  This organisation, which is local authority owned, could be a basis for an wider provider of services to CCG’s in the nine councils covered by the organisation.

I am pleased that the national NHS has asked each region to nominate a chief executive to oversee self assessments for the public health transition. This will identify areas that would benefit from further support to ensure a smooth transition but also highlight examples of innovation.

For some time, Wirral Council has been working with the LGA as part of its improvement agenda and this has provided some real benefits.

I feel strongly that learning from the experience and best practice of others can make an important contribution to achieving our ambitions for local communities so I am very interested in seeing the national outcomes of the self assessment process and using them alongside our regional findings to make sure that we provide public health services that local government can be proud of.  

In my new role, I have been busy making links with the CCGs and commissioning support services for the authority. Good progress is being made but I am determined to integrate these services further. To assist in this there is a second meeting planned between Blackburn, North East Lincs and Wirral Council’s in November to share good practice around integration of both commissioning and services.

Graham Burgess, chief executive, Wirral Council

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