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NW health chief bows out with warning over NHS.

Byline: BY SAM LISTER Daily Post Staff

THE director of public health in the North West used his final hours in the job yesterday to attack the way the NHS was being run.

Professor John Ashton, who resigned to escape what he said were the growing constraints of the civil service, also criticised plans to rebuild the Royal Liverpool Hospital.

And he revealed he hopes to stand as a councillor in the city in next May's local elections.

Speaking to the Daily Post on his last day in the role he has held for 13 years, Prof Ashton said: "The danger with the NHS at the moment is that a lot of public services built up over many years are becoming fractured beyond redemption.

"We shouldn't just let the private sector come in and cream bits off. Once they have gone over to the private sector, they are impossible to get back.

"There is a naivety among the people making these decisions. Some of it is down to inexperience and the age of people taking the decisions.

"I would also like to see public health become the remit of local government once again. It is not safe in the hands of the health service.

"It does not understand it involves things like access to transport, libraries and education which help people realise their potential and live better, healthier lives.

"It thinks it's all about hospitals.

"The way things are going, hospitals will be competing with each other until some close down."

He said: "I'm totally opposed to rebuilding the Royal as big as is planned. What we need to do is focus on building small community hospitals and putting in places systems to allow people in their 70s, 80s and 90s to stay in their own homes for as long as possible."

Prof Ashton, 59, from Woolton, announced he was retiring in June after ' it was revealed there would be a reorganisation within the Department of Health.

The Labour party member, who signed up when he was a sixth form student, now hopes to stand as a local councillor.

He said: "There are two issues facing the world now, social justice and sustainability, and they are linked together.

"Violence in communities can be tackled but it has to be through empowering the community to bring it to an end."

Pioneer who has helped change face of public health

BACK in 1983, Prof Ashton was invited to develop a public health function in the former Mersey Regional Health Authority, serving Merseyside and Cheshire.

Ten years later he was appointed regional medical officer and regional director of public health (RDPH) with the Mersey Regional Health Authority.

The following year he was appointed RDPH to the newly-created North West Regional Health Authority.

When regional health authorities were abolished in 1996, Prof Ashton was appointed director of public health at the Department of Health's new regional office in Warington. He has led the way internationally during his tenure, introducing major projects that have changed the face of public health, including the UK's first Public Health Observatory - there is now one in every region.


Professor John Ashton
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Copyright 2006 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Sep 1, 2006
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