Dr Jenny Harries, joint director of public health at NHS Norfolk and Norfolk County Council

Norfolk’s NHS and council boss resigns for ‘personal reasons’

Saturday, November 17, 2012
6.30 AM

An NHS and council boss responsible for overseeing the health of Norfolk’s population has resigned, citing personal reasons for her decision.

Jenny Harries, director of public health, could no longer sustain the toll being placed on her by living away from her family, who are based in Wales, according to an email sent by Norfolk County Council’s chief executive. She is set to leave her post in January.

Dr Harries has worked in hospitals and health care in the UK, Kenya, India and New Zealand and took on the role of local director of public health in Monmouthshire, in south east Wales. Dr Harries then became joint director of health in Swindon before she was appointed to her role in Norfolk in 2010 by the county council and NHS Norfolk.

David White, Norfolk County Council chief executive, sent an email to colleagues confirming the news. Mr White, in a similarly-worded statement released to the EDP, said: “Sadly, Dr Jenny Harries, director of public health, has tendered her resignation from the authority and will leave at the end of January. Jenny has taken this step for personal reasons; Jenny’s family remain in Wales and for a number of reasons it has not been possible to relocate to Norfolk; this has exerted a toll which is no longer sustainable.

“On behalf of the authority, I wish Jenny well. And I will now take the necessary steps to recruit Jenny’s replacement.”

Earlier this year, council officials claimed there was nothing untoward about an “informal” meeting Dr Harries requested to discuss concerns about the proposed King’s Lynn incinerator.

Dr Harries was shown to have asked for a meeting with the county council’s head of communications, Joanna Hannam, to discuss “public and political concerns” about the controversial project, according to documents released under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act.

The meeting happened in July 2011, shortly before NHS Norfolk wrote to inform the county council it “broadly supported” the incinerator.

A county council statement released after the news emerged stated: “This was an entirely appropriate part of her wider preparation for the necessary independent examination of the NHS aspects of the proposal.

“She subsequently engaged key NHS colleagues to prepare the subsequent NHS Norfolk response, including local GPs.”

The statement said the meeting was also attended by Mike Jackson, Norfolk’s lead director for waste and recycling.

The county council’s planning committee voted in favour of the incinerator proposal in June this year, despite strong opposition to the proposal. The authority’s decision was called in by communities secretary Eric Pickles in August.

A public inquiry examining the proposal is due to take place next February.