Published: 01/04/2004, Volume II4, No. 5899 Page 14 15

1.What is the biggest challenge your local health economy faces?

Health inequalities. A boy born in Manchester today will live seven to ten years fewer than one born in places like Dorset, Somerset, Surrey and Sussex.

And we have very high prevalence of chronic disease.

2.What is your biggest public health challenge?

Smoking... we have the worst [related] disease rates in England.

We work strongly with non-NHS organisations on things like the tobacco-free Greater Manchester project.We would strongly support legislation that would enable the city to be smoke free.

3.What is the biggest challenge faced by the SHA?

The workforce agenda [GP shortages particularly] and pay modernisation [GP and consultant contracts and Agenda for Change]. Our vacancy rates for December/January are GPs:

7.81 per cent; consultants: 6.78 per cent and nurses: 2 per cent.

4.What is your financial position?

We will achieve financial balance at the end of this [financial] year.

On 1 April 2002, we were£80m in deficit; in April 2004 it should be zero.

5.What are your waiting figures?

We are on target to meet all waiting targets by this April. If the SHA is to add value, we need to look to the medium term.

We are taking services closer to where the people are and treating them more appropriately.

At January 2004, our figures were 12 months: no patients;

nine months: 1,048 patients; and six months: 7,536 patients.