HEALTH chiefs face a huge challenge as they attempt to tackle the inequality gaps across Northwich and Winsford in the face of budget cuts.

Ian Ashworth, director of public health at Cheshire West and Chester Council, delivered a presentation to the Northwich and Winsford district advisory panel during its meeting at Memorial Court on Wednesday.

The panel, which is made up of ward councillors, is responsible for evaluating and assessing how the authority’s plans up to 2020 are being achieved.

It is also tasked with developing a response to inform the council about how its key objectives of delivering ‘thriving economies and communities’ are progressing in each area.

During Wednesday’s meeting, Mr Ashworth told members about the priorities covering physical and mental health.

He said deprivation can lead to health inequalities which, he says, ‘is the challenge we have’ in Northwich and Winsford.

“It is about trying to show what intelligence and resources you have at your disposal,” said Mr Ashworth.

“In some wards, you have specific things that stand out.

“We present a very deficit approach here, showing what is wrong, but it is really important to talk about the strengths and what is positive about communities.

“We try to understand what is working – it is a different conversation then.

“The public health team are doing a lot of work, we work across the system.”

But Labour’s Cllr Sam Naylor, who chairs the panel, raised serious concerns over the health issues and inequalities across the two areas.

He said: “We all represent different areas in Northwich and Winsford.

“Clearly, there are areas in our areas which are safer to live in.

“For our society to have any kind of equality, inequalities shouldn’t exist.”

Cllr Naylor, ward member for Winnington and Castle, also pressed Mr Ashworth about the health focus on prevention, as well as the budget pressures facing the authority.

Mr Ashworth says he believes it is ‘absolutely fabulous’ that the NHS is focusing on prevention.

He also reminded members that the demand for services continues to increase despite cuts to health budgets.

“We have done a lot of fantastic things in terms of innovating,” he added.

“Since I qualified, all I have really known is decommissioning things or cutting things.

“It is important to have cross-party support in whatever we do.

“What we do when we put the money together is get the best outcomes.”