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New director of public health comes home to Dudley

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Dudley Council is welcoming its new director of public health back to the community where she grew up.

Karen Wright, originally from Dudley will be taking up the post at the end of the year after a distinguished career in public health across the West Midlands and lately at Herefordshire Council where she’s been director of public health since February 2018.

Karen’s work at Herefordshire looked at how public health is not a standalone service but is impacted by a range of other factors including housing, lifestyle choices and the importance of early intervention. Her role at Herefordshire saw her leading on prevention, strategic housing, homelessness, community services and, of course, public health. Karen leaves the service as it is declared 'outstanding' by the chief executive of Public Health England.

Before her move to Herefordshire, Karen was closer to home, spending five years as a consultant in public health, focusing on health improvement and older people at Worcestershire County Council. Prior to this she was working in the NHS itself for six years as consultant in public health for NHS Worcestershire.
She’s also spent time working as a consultant in public health at Wyre Forest Primary Care Trust, progressing to Director of Public Health.

And her affection for the West Midlands has also seen her working at Walsall Health Authority, starting in 1992 as a specialist health promotion manager: public health medicine, before progressing to associate director of HAZ & health development in 2000.

Karen has over 30 years of experience in public health, both within the local government and the NHS. She holds a post graduate diploma and MSc in health promotion, as well as a post graduate diploma in management studies and MSc in manager and organisational development. She’s worked in both urban and rural settings, with the different challenges that each brings and brings this knowledge, experience back home to the place she holds close to her heart.

Karen Wright, Dudley’s incoming director of public health, said:

I was born in, grew up in, and have spent most of life in Dudley and my extended family live in the borough. As a ‘Dudley Girl’ it’s an honour to come home and serve my own community.
It has been a real privilege the to serve the people of Herefordshire and work with the most amazing colleagues but I am really looking forward to heading home to serve the community I grew up in. We still have challenging times ahead but I look forward to working with my new colleagues and public health partners to help make Dudley a resilient and healthy place to live.

Councillor Nicolas Barlow, cabinet member for health and adult social care said:

We’re really looking forward to welcoming Karen to the Dudley team. This is not an easy time to take up such an important post, but we have great faith that Karen’s decades of experience, and her understanding of and affection for the borough will be key factors in helping us deliver on all of our public health messages here in Dudley.
Our acting director has done an exceptional job, helping us to co-ordinate activity during this extremely challenging time for all of us. We are all looking forward to Karen taking up this post in the next few months at the end of the year.

The appointment is set to be ratified at the next meeting of full council on 12 October.

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