New Public Health director for West Sussex to help lead county’s response to pandemic

A new permanent director of Public Health for West Sussex has been recruited with a priority to help lead the response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Alison Challenger will start her new position in April and will take over from Dr Tony Hill who has served as the interim director since November.

She is a highly experienced and clinically qualified public health professional with a background in nursing and midwifery.

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She is currently director of Public Health at Nottingham City Council where she has led their public health response to the pandemic for Nottingham City and the Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire Integrated Care System and Local Resilience Forum, including as chair of the Tactical Coordination Group and Outbreak Control Board.

Alison Challenger will start her new position in April

Alison has a wealth of experience in building and embedding public health and wellbeing priorities across a range of strategic partnerships and is a member of the Faculty of Public Health Board, the Association of Directors of Public Health Council, and the Public Health England Tobacco Control Implementation Board.

On her appointment, Alison said: “I’m delighted to be taking on the role in West Sussex to support the local community. I’m really excited and looking forward to starting with the team in the coming months.”

Amanda Jupp, West Sussex’s cabinet member for adults and health, said: “I’m delighted to welcome Alison to West Sussex. The role of director of Public Health is crucial not only to our ongoing response to the coronavirus pandemic, but also to the long-term health of our residents.

“I would like to thank Dr Tony Hill for his outstanding work during the interim and I am very grateful to him for continuing to lead our public health response to the pandemic at such a key stage when the vaccination programme is being rolled out.

“It is good to know that a considerable number of residents have already received the vaccine, with more to follow in the coming weeks and months.”

Early indications show that the number of new coronavirus cases within West Sussex have fallen slightly but they still remain high. The figures show that in the seven days up to January 20, there were 3,525 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the county.

The infection rate across West Sussex for the same period was 408 per 100,000. This is below the national average in England of 420.7.

Mrs Jupp, who is also Chair of the Local Outbreak Engagement Board, added: “It is reassuring to see COVID-19 numbers in West Sussex coming down, but we must not be complacent. It remains vital that everyone continues to follow the guidelines to keep West Sussex safe.”

West Sussex County Council is supporting the NHS-led vaccination programme within Sussex, which is working hard to ensure as many people in priority groups are vaccinated as soon as possible.

She added: “I am really pleased that the council is working closely with the NHS, which is leading the vaccination programme nationally and across West Sussex. It is important to remember that even after having the vaccine, there is still a chance that people might get or pass on coronavirus.

“Therefore everyone, including those who have received the vaccine, must continue to follow the stay-at-home restrictions and, if you do need to leave home for an essential reason, please carry on washing your hands, wearing a face covering as well as maintaining two metres distance from others.”

More information about the COVID-19 vaccination programme is available on the Sussex Health and Care Partnership website.

To find out more about the council’s work to combat the pandemic click here.