The person who will lead a new commission looking at health and social care services in the North East has been appointed.
Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England, has been named as chair of the Commission for Health and Social Care Integration in the North East.
The commission will look at how services are provided and at the potential for further collaboration and integration in order to help improve the health and wellbeing of residents across the region.
It is being established by the North East Combined Authority (neca) and the NHS as part of the proposed devolution agreement signed on 23 October 2015.
The agreement recognises that while there are real strengths in the North East, the area faces huge challenges. Poor health is a key issue and despite excellent health and social care provision, outcomes are among the poorest in the country so there is a need to look at the whole system and address the impact of the wider issues which impact on people’s health.
The agreement also acknowledges that this must be done in a climate of constrained resources and recognises that the current system is unsustainable both financially and clinically.
The agreement covers the local authority areas of Northumberland, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Gateshead, South Tyneside, Sunderland and County Durham.
Mr Selbie has held a number of regional and national posts in the NHS before taking up his current post as chief executive of Public Health England.
He said: “It is a great privilege to have been asked to chair the commission.
“I look forward to the challenge of helping ensure that the combined authority has the best possible blueprint for integration, collaboration and devolution, which will enable it to improve outcomes and reduce health inequalities for local people.”
Cllr Simon Henig, chair of the North East Combined Authority, said: “We are very pleased that Duncan Selbie has agreed to chair the Commission for Health and Social Care Integration in the North East.
“He brings significant experience, knowledge and understanding in this field and is extremely well-placed to oversee the commission’s work in identifying how we can build on our strengths and tackle the health challenges we face in our region.”
Senior figures responsible for the commissioning of local health services have also welcomed Mr Selbie’s appointment.
Dr David Hambleton, chief officer for NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Chair of the Northern CCG Forum representing NHS local commissioners, said: “We welcome the commission and the opportunity it presents to gain better outcomes for local people and ensure sustainability for the NHS and social care in the North East.
“We are building on the strong track record we already have in the region for close partnership working across organisations.”
Tim Rideout, director of commissioning for NHS England, Cumbria and the North East, said: “Devolution provides a real opportunity for health and social care commissioners and providers to work even more closely to best meet the needs of local populations.
“It should give us more ways of doing this at a strategic and planning level, but also in terms of bringing staff together to deliver more seamless services in relation to care, treatment and support, including health improvement work.”
The commission will look across a range of services, including acute and primary care, community services, mental health services, social care and public health.
It is expected to report in the summer of 2016 with recommendations for further devolution and integration. The report will also set out the steps needed to achieve this.