OVER the last two years Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland Councils and their partners have been carrying out work to bring together their Public Health service teams to create a new joint service called Public Health South Tees, which began operating this week.

The Public Health service works to improve and protect the health and wellbeing of people living and working in South Tees. The service collaborates and works in partnership with other council departments, external agencies, partners and communities. The joint public health service is the first in the North East region and has the ambition of becoming a centre of public health excellence regionally and nationally.

Already there are a number of exciting innovative programmes underway with more in the pipeline. These range from the successful bid to become one of only 12 local delivery pilots for Sport England’s £130m investment, delivery of the Transformation Challenge in Redcar and Cleveland, mental health and rehabilitation programmes for people with long-term illness. The ‘Reduce your Risk’ campaign which is around cancer prevention and raising awareness of how people can reduce their risk, is shortly to launch a new campaign around bowel screening later in April.

Edward Kunonga, Director of Public Health, explained: “The new joint public health service will combine public health expertise to improve outcomes and reduce health inequalities for residents in both Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland. Both areas have a good track record of commissioning and delivering public health services and coming together allows for this to be shared across the areas. We have a very good multi-disciplinary team with a range of experience and expertise to build on and they are ready to take on the public health challenges and make a difference for the local communities.”

Councillor Lynn Pallister, Cabinet Member for Health, Housing and Welfare at Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council, said: “The joint public health service provides an opportunity to pool together expertise, share good practice and work on common public health challenges across South Tees. The arrangement will build on a number of successful programmes that we have worked on over the years. I’m really impressed with how quickly the new joint service has already begun to deliver. Our new resources to support people to stop smoking are a brilliant example of this joint working and I’m confident it will help the work of both councils in making smoking history. I am sure there will more examples of how working together can improve the services and support we provide to our communities to live longer and healthier lives.”

The Stop Smoking South Tees website (www.stopsmokingsouthtees.co.uk) is the joint service’s first delivered project and provides details of all local quit smoking sessions offered by the councils and a wealth of information to encourage and support people to quit.

Councillor Julia Rostron, Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health at Middlesbrough Council, said: “The joint public health service is an example of how we can work in collaboration and partnership to improve the length and quality of life for our residents.

“The service will have the flexibility to respond to local challenges and benefit from having the specialist expertise to plan and deliver public health programmes across our area.

“Since 2007, smoking rates have continued to fall nationally and locally, although our rates remain higher than the national averages. Everyone knows that stopping smoking isn’t easy but research shows people who get support from a local Stop Smoking Service find it easier to quit and are four times more likely to stay smoke free.

Our new shared service, launched with this new website and support arrangements, will continue to work hard to support individuals, families and communities to reduce smoking, and its associated illnesses and preventable deaths, continue to reduce throughout Middlesbrough and Redcar & Cleveland.”