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Public health leader chooses Canada over councils

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One of the country’s leading public health directors will be leaving the NHS for Canada next month.  

Health reporting HSJ and LGC logo

Frank Atherton, director of public health at NHS North Lancashire and the outgoing president of the Association of Directors of Public Health, will step down from the primary care trust in two weeks’ time.

Dr Atherton has been ADPH president since November 2008 and was a member of the NHS Future Forum.

He has been appointed deputy chief medical officer of health at the Nova Scotia Department of Health and will also be an associate professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax.

In a blog post about his move, Dr Atherton wrote: “On a personal note I find myself on the wrong side of the workforce ‘Berlin Wall’ which has been erected and have decided that local government is not the right destination for me.”

His successor at the helm of the ADPH was announced last week as Janet Atherton. She is director of public health for NHS Sefton and Sefton council.

Dr Atherton told LGC’s sister title Health Service Journal he was “really looking forward to getting back to some ‘proper’ public health work”, following the “recent obsession” with reform and reorganisation.

He said: “I will be leading a team working to improve population health. I will also be tasked with ensuring robust arrangements for health protection including responses to major incidents and outbreaks.

“This is an area which has a very high profile in Canadian public health practice at the moment as they take the lessons from SARS and pandemic influenza very seriously and are investing in improved resilience.”


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