HELPING people with long-term health problems is among the priorities of Bury’s new public health director.

Lesley Jones, aged 48, took over the role from Dr Peter Elton last October and will continue in the job, which pays more than £90,000, for at least a year.

Working for Bury Council, her task is to promote and protect the health and wellbeing of all Bury residents.

Mrs Jones, who had previously been Bolton’s deputy public health director, said: “I have received a warm welcome from everyone at the council and from partner agencies and I look forward to working with them to help, in particular, vulnerable people in the community.”

One of her main aims is to ensure GPs help people with long-term conditions, such as diabetes, to tap into support services.

She said: “I believe this is one area that can be improved. There may be interventions that can be provided to these groups that can help them in their everyday lives.

“I also want GPs to do more to prevent people developing those illnesses in the first place.”

On behalf of Bury Council, Bury Football Club carries out work with ‘hard-to-reach’ groups to improve their health, such as coaching sessions for women and girls.

She said it was important for health workers to target particular groups, paarticularly those for whom obesity and alcohol is an issue.

But Mrs Jones accepted the limitations of decision-making at local level.

“We have to accept that some things can only be done at national level, but this is made more possible when there is an appetite at local level.

“For example, when the limitations on public smoking were brought in, some people were opposed it but there was a campaign to show people the health benefits and it helped bring about a change in approach.”

She added: “One thing I would like to see brought in as a minimum unit price of alcohol, but it’s important that people understand the health benefits.”