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Health should lie at the heart of any government strategy to level up the economy. Healthier communities are more prosperous communities, and our health is strongly determined by the social and economic conditions in which we live.  

Being closer than Whitehall to the communities they serve, local authorities have the remit to act on the wider determinants of health and are more readily able to assess where intervention and investment are likely to deliver greater impact. 

Local government should, therefore, be put at the centre of driving forward the strategy to improve and level up health (and so level up the economy). But how could this best work in practice? Our webinar unpicked and explored this question, considering: 

  • What does ‘levelling up’ mean in different places, both across and within local authorities? 
  • What exactly does local government need to do to drive this agenda? What are their unique assets and opportunities? 
  • What are the barriers to making this happen? 
  • What is the role of national government in enabling this?  
  • How does this tie in with the government’s commitment to improve healthy life expectancy by five years by 2035 and close the gap between the rich and poor? 

This webinar took place on Thursday 30 September 2021. 

Watch the recording


Jo Bibby is Director of Health at the Health Foundation. She is responsible for leading the Foundation’s Healthy Lives strategy to create the opportunities for everyone to lead a healthy life.

Joining the Foundation in November 2007, Jo initially led the Foundation’s influential portfolio of work in patient safety and person-centred care.  

Jo has worked in health care at local and national level for 25 years, including 10 years at the Department of Health. As Head of NHS Performance, she oversaw the implementation of the policy agenda set out in the NHS Plan. At the NHS Modernisation Agency, Jo led an international quality improvement initiative – Pursuing Perfection.

Before joining the Foundation, Jo was the Director for the Calderdale and Kirklees Integrated Service Strategy where she led a major service reconfiguration programme to deliver improvements in quality, safety and patient experience.

She is a trustee at the Centre for Homelessness Impact and from June 2021 a non-executive director at Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust.

Jo has a PhD in Medical Biophysics.

Jo Bibby, Director of Health at the Health Foundation

Greg Fell is a Director of Public Health in Sheffield. He graduated from Nottingham University with a degree in biochemistry and physiology in 1993. He has worked as a social researcher in a maternity unit; a number of roles in health promotion and public health before joining the public health training scheme. Greg worked as a consultant in public health in Bradford in the PCT then Bradford council. Since Feb 2016 he has worked for Sheffield as director of public health.

Head and shoulders shot of Greg Fell

Joanna Killian was appointed Chief Executive of Surrey County Council in March 2018, where her initial priority was to address the authority’s precarious financial position. Joanna led a successful recovery strategy that has subsequently strengthened control of the council’s finances and put them in a significantly healthier, more resilient position. At the same time, she has overseen a wave of service improvements and efficiencies across the authority.

Prior to joining Surrey County Council, Joanna spent three years as a partner at KPMG in the local government services team, working with both the public and private sector and gaining experience of public service delivery across Europe and in the US.

Joanna’s career has been spent predominantly in the public sector. Starting in a local authority housing department – and having been involved in housing, regeneration and economic redevelopment roles – she then moved to the Audit Commission, where she helped to set up the housing inspectorate and deliver the first round of audit assessments for local government in 2002.

Joanna was appointed as Director of Finance and Performance at Essex County Council in 2005, soon becoming Chief Executive Officer, a role she performed for nine years before joining KPMG. Joanna also served as Chairman of the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE) from 2011–2015.

A headshot of Joanna Killian


Jennifer was Chief Executive of the Nuffield Trust from 2008 to 2013. Prior to this, she was Director of Policy at The King’s Fund and was the policy advisor to the Chief Executive of the National Health Service between 1998 and 2000. Jennifer has undertaken research and written widely on health care reform both in the UK and internationally.

Originally trained in medicine, Jennifer practised mainly paediatric medicine, prior to a career in policy analysis. She has a Master’s in public health and a PhD in health services research from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. In 1990–91, Jennifer was a Harkness Fellow in New York.

Jennifer has served as a Board member on several national regulatory bodies: the Health Care Commission 2004–2009; the Audit Commission 2003–2012; and the Care Quality Commission 2013–2016. She has led two national inquiries for government: on the setting up of published ratings of quality of NHS and social care providers in England (2013); and on the setting up of ratings for general practices (2015). She was also a member of the Parliamentary Review Panel for the Welsh Assembly Government advising on the future strategy for the NHS and social care in Wales (2017–2018).

In 2009, Jennifer was elected a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, and in 2019 was elected as a fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences. She was awarded a CBE for services to public health in 2013, and a Doctor of Science from Bristol University in 2016. She has held visiting professorships at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, the London School of Economics, and Imperial College Business School.

Jennifer Dixon, Chief Executive of the Health Foundation

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