I was interested in the new shared post for the public health director in Solihull (News Focus, page 14-15, 3 December).

Although such a post is a logical step that could arise from recent government policy - which recognises that the public's health may well benefit more from identifying the health impact of better education, environment and employment than from providing healthcare - it is only one solution.

Many of us in shire counties work in the complex arrangements between county councils and district councils. The issues this complexity raises often go unrecognised. Not only do we have five district councils in our county, but we now have six primary care groups and no longer share the county's geographical boundaries. So while in some places, such as Solihull, shared posts are to be welcomed, they will not necessarily be the panacea to the problems of joint working.

More thought needs to be given to developing new ways of practising public health in complex structural environments and in developing joint ways of working together, particularly since it is often dispersed rural populations which are affected.

Sian Griffiths

Director of public health and health policy

Oxfordshire HA