The demise of the Health Education Authority will end contract culture and poor co-ordination in public health, the head of its slimline successor has pledged.

Richard Parish took up his post as chief executive of the Health Development Agency last week, saying it would abandon the HEAs key role of providing national public information campaigns.

He told HSJ : The HEA did a lot of good work. But there was a view that it was a prisoner of the contract culture, run on the basis of a large number of individual contracts. If I have a criticism of the HEA, it is that it was not actually as well co-ordinated as it might have been.

The HDA will have just 130 staff - compared to the 250 employed by the HEA. Job losses will be felt in the main in the HEAs campaigns department, with some of its staff being transferred elsewhere.

Mr Parish added: We have a voluntary redundancy plan in place to try and handle these difficult situations as sensitively as we can.

Mr Parish described the HEA - which caused controversy in the mid1980s for its anti-AIDS campaign and in 1994 for a smutty teenage sex education guide banned by the Conservative government - as very much a child of the early 90s.

He said campaigns would in future be carried out by the Department of Health and other parts of the NHS, which could include public health bodies or local organisations taking a national lead.

The HEA formally winds down in April, when the HDA - now working in parallel - will be officially launched. The new organisations budget will not be agreed until ministers have considered a programme of work likely to report at the same time.

Mr Parish said the HDA would have four key functions: to map the evidence base and disseminate information on public health outcomes, establish quality standards on workforce capacity and capability, support government work on health inequalities and research innovative means of health promotion.

Mr Parish insisted that a major look at workforce standards - which will examine staff numbers and role mix as well as skills - will be very much in conjunction with local organisations and regions rather than a top-down approach .

Mr Parish was formerly director of education and training at Eastern regional office and has been director of operations for Health Promotion Wales.