Two weeks ago, NHS Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group and Cornwall Council made a significant announcement.  However, in the current climate where COVID-19 has occupied all the news bulletins and all our thoughts, this slipped through almost unnoticed; yet it will have implications for the future of health and social care throughout Cornwall.  The announcement was that Helen Charlesworth- May has been appointed to the new role of Joint Accountable Officer for Public Health and Care.  This is a leadership role across the Clinical Commissioning Group and Cornwall Council, merging the duties taken by NHS Kernow’s Chief Accountable Officer and Cornwall Council’s Strategic Director of Adult Care and Support.  It is hoped that this joined-up leadership will help deliver on the new vision for health and wellbeing for the next ten years.  The role is interim for 18 months.

 The appointment of Helen to this role means she will take on the NHS portfolio as well as the Cornwall Council role she fulfilled as strategic director of adult care and support.  We wish her well in the challenge she has taken on, as it is a daunting task.  Helen had already accepted our invitation to speak at our Annual General Meeting in April, and we had been looking forward to that.  However, the lockdown has inevitably led to the indefinite postponement of that meeting, though we all hope we can welcome Helen to Penzance for a meeting once COVID-19 has faded away.

 This appointment means also that we must say farewell to Jackie Pendleton, who has been the Chief Accountable Officer for NHS Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group, overseeing the work of the NHS in Cornwall.  We want to put on record our thanks and appreciation for all that Jackie has done during her time with the KCCG.  We in West Cornwall HealthWatch have had the privilege of working with her and meeting with her regularly, and she has been a delight.  Straightforward, honest and a good listener, Jackie has exemplified the qualities of leadership in a very difficult time for the NHS, and we shall miss her.  We wish her well for the future, we are glad that she has made Cornwall her home, and we hope to see her again soon (perhaps even as a campaigner for the NHS!) 

 Meanwhile, both health and social care workers are grappling with the almost overwhelming challenge of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, and we join with our entire community in saluting all the valiant staff facing a situation they could never have imagined.  Thank you, one and all.


Marna Blundy

Coordinator, West Cornwall HealthWatch