The Department of Health’s work on health and wellbeing boards, the local forums at which council and NHS leaders, discuss health priorities, is to be led by a former chief executive of Wigan council

Joyce Redfearn stood down from her role as joint chief executive of Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council and Ashton, Leigh and Wigan Primary Care Trust in March 2012.

Since then Ms Redfearn, whose career has mostly been spent on councils, has advised the Local Government Association on the establishment of health and wellbeing boards.

She started the new post as national transition director for the implementation of health and wellbeing boards this week in a role that lasts until the end of March - after which the boards will take on their statutory functions.

Ms Redfearn told HSJ’s sister title Local Government Chronicle that part of her role was to decide how the Department of Health would support the new boards after they took on their statutory functions.

“For the next three months I’ll be continuing to meet people who are delivering in health and wellbeing boards, and planning for the future”, she said. “My aim is to make sure that partnership working goes from strength to strength, so I will be working out how the government can facilitate support for that.”

She said the LGA, the NHS Commissioning Board and the NHS Confederation could all play a role in supporting the new boards.

Health and wellbeing boards, which were set up in shadow form in April 2012, are responsible for setting a joint assessment of local health and care needs and producing a shared strategy to address those needs.

Ms Redfearn said she hoped the new boards could play an important role in addressing difficult issues such as health service reconfigurations, which can include hospital closures. “These things have been notoriously difficult to do before”, she said. “Now, we have the chance to begin to understand why people take different points of view and work out how you find a common purpose.”

Ms Redfearn will replace John Wilderspin, who announced in October that he would leave his post to become managing director of the Central Southern Commissioning Support Unit.