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First public health leader to take reins of devolved health budget in Greater Manchester

The first ever public health leader has been appointed in Greater Manchester as part of its £6bn healthcare devolution deal involving the NHS and social care budgets.

Wendy Meredith – now formally the director of population health transformation – will work with senior councillors and healthcare bosses to oversee and develop new approaches to the region’s health and social care, ahead of councils’ intake of the £6bn budget.

The role will place a “greater emphasis” on prevention and early intervention, to mitigate service demand and ensure people remain independent.

Lord Peter Smith, lead for health on the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, said this emphasis is necessary “if we are to develop a more successful healthcare system for [the region’s] 2.8 million residents”.wendy-compressed

Meredith brings 30 years of public health expertise, joining the role directly from her title as director of public health for Bolton Council and chair of the Greater Manchester Directors of Public Health Group.

She said: “It is an honour for me to accept this position and I cannot wait to play my part in shaping the region’s health and care system as we look for new ways to help people to stay healthy and enjoy better lives.

“Our priorities include supporting parents to give their children the best possible start in life, supporting people to be in sustainable and good-quality work and nurturing a social movement for change to enable people to make their own informed choices and adopt healthy habits.”

The new director will work alongside figureheads from Public Health England (PHE), NHS England, Greater Manchester Combined Authority and the emergency services to deliver the region’s long-term plan for devolved powers.

Duncan Selbie, PHE’s chief executive, said: “I warmly welcome Wendy’s appointment. These are exciting times for Greater Manchester as everyone pulls together to improve the health and wellbeing of local people. Wendy’s role will be pivotal to keeping everyone focused on this as the primary aim of devolution.”

And Ian Williamson, chief officer of Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Devolution, said her role marks the latest “major milestone” in the health and social care devolution process to regional authorities.

“The appointment is central to a new joined-up way of working and ensures public health continues to play an integral role in the process of devolution,” he added.


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