Newcastle and Gateshead to share director of public health

Alice Wiseman will split her time between the councils from April 2024, initially for 12 months.
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Gateshead and Newcastle director of public health Alice Wiseman

Newcastle and Gateshead councils will both be served by the same Director of Public Health from April through a new year-long agreement between the two authorities.

Alice Wiseman, the current Director of Public Health for Gateshead Council, will split her time between Gateshead and Newcastle City Council, covering the statutory role for both local authorities.

Alice, who is also the Vice President of the Association of Directors of Public Health, will begin the new position from 1 April 2024, on an initial 12-month basis, giving both councils the opportunity to assess the suitability of making it a permanent arrangement in the long term.  

Cllr Karen Kilgour, Deputy Leader of Newcastle City Council and Cabinet Member for a Healthy, Caring City, said: “I’m really pleased to be able to welcome Alice as she begins this new role, delivering healthier communities in Newcastle, and tackling the health inequalities we see across parts of our city. Along with Alice and her team, we will ensure people have every opportunity to succeed at every stage of their life in Newcastle. 

“Alice brings a wealth of experience to the role; she is somebody who has significant expertise on the factors affecting people’s health and wellbeing, with an in-depth understanding of the local context that our communities live in. Additionally, this joint approach will further improve the strength of partnership we have with colleagues in Gateshead.

“We recognise that this is a new approach to filling an important position, and we will work closely with Gateshead Council and wider stakeholders to assess the longer-term possibilities of this agreement. I look forward to working with Alice.”

Councillor Bernadette Oliphant, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing at Gateshead Council, said: “Since becoming Director of Public Health in 2016, Alice has consistently demonstrated a real commitment to improving health and wellbeing. She is particularly passionate about tackling the unacceptable difference in healthy life expectancy between communities and I have no doubt that this commitment and passion will continue to benefit Gateshead.

“The dual role is expected to lead to more effective collaboration not only between the two councils, but also with other key partners. We have seen the benefits of partnership working during the pandemic, through our regional tobacco control programme and many other projects that support better health and wellbeing across Gateshead.”

Alice said: “Having grown up in the area I know that the communities of Gateshead and Newcastle have always been closely connected, and not just because people living in both areas travel across the river for work, shopping, socialising and so on. We face many of the same public health challenges and there are lots of opportunities to align our work and share learning for the benefit of residents in both areas.

“The two councils already work closely together and the new arrangement will help us to build on this, to make a bigger positive impact on the health and wellbeing of local communities.

“I’m looking forward to working with colleagues and residents in Newcastle, whilst remaining committed to my role in Gateshead.”

The public health teams at both councils will continue to serve their respective local authority areas separately, but both will report to the same director. Deputy arrangements will be put in place in both councils to ensure appropriate leadership and capacity is available at all times to the respective teams.  

It is anticipated that this arrangement will lead to wider benefits with both public health teams working even more closely together for the benefit of residents in both Gateshead and Newcastle.

An independent review during the year involving all stakeholders will inform the future Director of Public Health arrangements.