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Leading Public Health

06 June 2009

Professor Sir Mansel AylwardProfessor Sir Mansel Aylward

A leading University expert in psychosocial, social, economic and cultural factors that influence people’s health and wellbeing has been appointed to lead the delivery of public health services across Wales.

Professor Mansel Aylward CB, Director of the Centre for Pyschosocial and Disability Research becomes the first-ever Chair of Public Health Wales – a new unified NHS Trust responsible for the delivery of public health services at national, local and community level in Wales.

Professor Aylward, who becomes the Chair Designate until the new Trust is officially established on 1st August 2009, said: "I am honoured to be appointed as chair of Public Health Wales. We have an exciting time ahead of us and I am committed to leading an organisation which will contribute to improving and protecting the health of the people of Wales, which will help reduce inequalities of health and which will support the reforms of the NHS in Wales."

Professor Aylward is the former Chief Medical Adviser, Medical Director and Chief Scientist to the Department for Work and Pensions. He was also Chief Medical Adviser and Head of Profession at the Veterans' Agency, Ministry of Defence. He was made a Companion of the Bath in the Queen's Birthday Honours List 2002. In December 2008, during the 60th year of the NHS, Professor Aylward was asked by the Welsh Assembly Government Minister for Health, Edwina Hart AM to head a new independent group, the Bevan Commission, to help ensure that changes in the NHS structures set Wales on the path to a world-class health care system.

In 2001 he was appointed as The Royal Society of Medicine's Academic Sub Dean for Wales. He is a physician and specialist in rheumatology, rehabilitation, therapeutics and clinical pharmacology. He has played a key role in the development of the UK’s medical assessment for incapacity (the All Work Test), the Personal Capability Assessment and the "Pathways to Work" initiative for Vocational Rehabilitation.

The new NHS Trust, which incorporates the functions and services provided by the National Public Health Service for Wales, the Wales Centre for Health, the Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit and Screening Services Wales, will be established in shadow form from 1 August 2009 and will become fully operational from 1 October 2009.

University Vice-Chancellor, Dr David Grant said: "Professor Aylward’s appointment as Chair of Public Health Wales is a reflection of his remarkable skills, experience and longstanding contribution to the National Health Service and commitment to improving people’s health. We all at the University wish Professor Aylward well in his new and challenging role in leading improvements in the health of the people of Wales."

The appointment of Professor Aylward reflects the University’s historic and continued contribution to improving public health. Professor Archie Cochrane carried out much pioneering work in Wales, including establishing a link between coal dust and miners’ chest disease. He also established the principle of the randomised controlled trial as the bedrock of medical research worldwide and was recently named the second most influential figure in the history of the NHS.

In recent years, the University acts as the hub for the Wales School for Primary Care Research an all-Wales initiative, providing the research to improve front line care in General Practice, Pharmacy, Nursing and Optometry as well as acting as the Wales hub for the UK Biobank initiative compiling a huge database of health information about thousands of people.

Problems specific to Wales are also addressed in a large number of schools. Work by experts in the School of Social Sciences include a successful trial using a peer-based approach in schools to cut smoking as well as undertaking an evaluation of the benefits of free school breakfasts in Wales. Experts in the School of City and Regional Planning continue to work to improve the quality of school meals.

In just over 40 years, the School of Dentistry has worked to transform the oral health of Wales. The School is also home to the Violence and Society Research Group, which continues to work with police, the NHS, local government and other partners to reduce the level of alcohol-related injuries.

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