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Webinar: In the face of financial strain, how can local government protect their communities’ health?

Wednesday 22 May 2024, 15.45–17.00

Less than a minute to read

Wednesday 22 May 2024, 15.45-17.00

This webinar will explore how joint working across local councils can protect the services that support good health, in the context of a challenging financial landscape. 

Hearing from colleagues at Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council and Oxfordshire County Council, we will discuss how public health colleagues have engaged other council decision makers to ensure health is considered in local policy, and look at how similar approaches could be adopted in other areas.

In recent years, many local authorities have had to cut back on some of the services and assets that people in their communities rely on, negatively impacting on health. To help reduce the impact on health and health inequalities, a joined-up approach is needed across each council to ensure services and people’s health are protected.  

This webinar forms part of a range of work the Health Foundation are undertaking with local authorities to explore their role in helping to build healthier lives in the communities they serve. 

This webinar is suitable for anyone working in local government who is interested in the health of their population. This might include councillors and officers working or interested in public health, directors of finance, and those working in relevant departments such as housing and transport as well as communities, neighbourhoods, and regeneration teams. 


Ansaf started at Oxfordshire county council as the Corporate Director of Public Health in August 2019.  During his time he has led the health inequality strategy across Oxfordshire, bringing into focus the 10 most deprived areas within Oxfordshire and taking a coordinated approach to tackle the underlying drivers of inequalities amongst these communities.  He has been a strong advocate for public health position in local government where he is passionate about influencing the wider determinants of health.  

Ansaf has championed the programme of healthy place shaping across the council as a way of improving health and wellbeing of the population. He has more than 20 years of experience in the public sector, both within NHS and local government.  He is a qualified pharmacist where he’s career began within clinical settings, rapidly progressing into commissioning organisations with experiences at local and national level. Before joining Oxfordshire, Ansaf was the director of public health at Sandwell Council, an inner city metropolitan borough within west midlands with complex health challenges, where he worked for more than 5 years.  He has always believed in the importance of working in collaboration with stakeholders across organisational boundaries to bring about positive changes that makes real sustained impact on population health within a local economy.  Ansaf currently lives in West Midlands with his wife and two daughters.  He enjoys spending time outdoors and is a keen runner and a cyclist.  

Ansaf Azhar

Lorna is the Executive Director of Resources at Oxfordshire County Council. She is a CIPFA qualified accountant and Fellow of the Institute with almost 30 years’ experience. Lorna has been the Section 151 Officer at Oxfordshire County Council for the last eleven years. For several years during this time, she also held the role of Director of Finance at Cherwell District Council whilst a partnership arrangement was in place between the two councils. 

Lorna is currently the chair of the Association of Local Authority Treasurers Society (ALATS) which brings together Directors of Finance from across the UK to strengthen the voice of the section 151 officer and represents the sector on a number of national forums including those led by the National Audit Office and the LGA. Lorna was president of the Society of County Treasurers (SCT) in 2021 and lead financial adviser to County Councils Network in the same year. She has also been an elected member of the CIPFA Council, an LGA corporate peer reviewer and has held a non-executive director role for charity providing services to older people and adults with learning disabilities charity. Lorna has also recently been appointed as a commissioner for DLUHC. 


Neil has over the 30 years’ experience in public service and is currently the Director of Finance [S151 Officer] at Barnsley Council leading on all aspects of the Council’s financial strategy; procurement, contract management & commercial strategies; benefits and taxation and corporate assurance oversight.

He is also the Treasurer to the South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority, sits on the board of governors at Northern College and is a director on several other local public / private companies. 

He is active in several national and regional lobbying groups including SIGOMA [Special Interest Group of Metropolitan Authorities], the Yorkshire & Humber Councils and Sheffield City Region Mayoral Combined Authority networks. 

He lives in Penistone with his wife and kids where he enjoys long walks in the countryside, pubs & home cooking.


Anna started as the Executive Director for Public Health and Communities at Barnsley Council in October 2023. Prior to that she was the Director of Public Health in Wakefield District where she worked for ten years. She also led the council’s participation programme ‘The Big Conversation’, which involves residents in decision making. Before training in public health Anna worked in a multi-purpose community centre doing everything from youth work to running a community café.  She then worked for the NHS in Leeds as the link between the local authority, the VCS and the NHS. During her public heath consultant training she was in the West Yorkshire Police for 18 months working at a strategic level to address the needs to vulnerable adults in the criminal justice system. She has a national and regional lead role for the Association of Directors of Public Health on the health of asylum seekers and was the West Yorkshire ICB DPH lead for inclusion health. She is the lead DPH on the Minding the Gap programme, which supports elected members and other staff to reduce health inequalities. She currently lives in Leeds with her husband, three kids and a dog and is a slow runner, obsessive reader and an enthusiastic cook. 

Headshot of Anna Hartley


Gwen is a joint Assistant Director with her job-share partner Katherine Merrifield.

Gwen is an Assistant Director in the Healthy Lives team leading work to improve public health policy, systems and practice. Her work focuses on supporting the public health leadership system, influencing national, local and regional government to take joined up action to tackle the wider determinants of health and building insights into how to communicate health inequalities to the public. 

Prior to joining the Health Foundation, Gwen had a twenty-year career in the Civil Service working on a range of social policy issues. With Katherine she led the drug and alcohol unit at the Home Office. She has also led work on childhood obesity policy, health system reform and supporting the third sector. 

Gwen is also a Social Mobility Foundation Mentor providing support to young people to progress their studies and careers.

Gwen Nightingale

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