Health chief eager to tackle issues in Portsmouth

PLAN Janet Maxwell, the new director of public health for Portsmouth. Picture: Allan Hutchings (133461-017)
PLAN Janet Maxwell, the new director of public health for Portsmouth. Picture: Allan Hutchings (133461-017)

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THE new director of public health for Portsmouth wants to look at improving housing, employment and transport to help the city stay well.

Janet Maxwell has taken on the role, and said she is excited to be in Portsmouth.

After training in Southampton as a GP, Dr Maxwell has practised in various cities, including Leicester and Manchester.

But now she is back on the south coast and ready to tackle health problems.

She said: ‘There are real and serious health issues in the city here.

‘There are lots of areas of deprivation in the city, and a difference in health outcomes.

‘For instance, women in the city are likely to live to their 80s, while for men it’s much lower and in their 70s.

‘There are also high numbers of preventable deaths, such as strokes and respiratory problems like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

‘A lot of these things can be prevented by lifestyle changes, and part of that is getting the right support.’

Dr Maxwell became interested in public health and started retraining in the field.

Her first post was in Bristol, where she was director of public health for a year.

Now she has taken up the position from Andrew Mortimore, who has been the interim director for just over a year.

Dr Maxwell added: ‘Having trained in Southampton, I was very keen to come back to the area.

‘Portsmouth has a strong sense of identity, and there’s a positive feeling of belonging .

‘There’s a strong sense of history and social support, and being an island city, there are strong boundaries.’

Dr Maxwell is keen to tackle health issues by looking at employment, housing and transport.

‘If you look at wider issues, then things like education are important,’ added Dr Mazwell.

‘Education gives you opportunities for jobs, and by having an income, you can buy food.

‘If people have decent housing, then they are living in a good environment. We need to look at the economic agenda and the environmental agenda.

‘There’s a very strong public health team here, and good work taking place, such as the drug and alcohol services.

‘I hope I can add to that and make a difference.’