Tessa Lindfield

Director of Public Health, Suffolk County Council, 
Tessa Lindfield profile picture

As the Director of Public Health for Suffolk Tessa is responsible for the new duty of the Council to improve the health of people in Suffolk and decrease the unacceptable variations in health between different communities. Despite having one of the best health services in the world we are still plagued by huge differences in life expectancy and other health outcomes between communities.

Tessa’s team has a really varied set of functions. They advise NHS commissioners on the services that Suffolk needs and help them prioritise their spending, they commission some treatment and health improvement services ourselves, including services for drugs and alcohol problems, weight management and sexual health and also lead the development of Suffolk’s Health & Wellbeing Board.

Tessa also has a responsibility to oversee some functions delivered by other organisations, to make sure that they are doing the right thing by Suffolk people. She is involved in emergency planning for health, response to outbreaks of infectious diseases and environmental hazards and supporting national programmes for screening and immunisation.

Tessa trained in public health in London, one of the early multidisciplinary trainees to complete the higher specialist training. During the year’s training she was placed within Primary Care Trusts, local authorities, academic units, the Health Protection unit, the Department for International Development and the regional NHS office in London. She then worked in a joint council and NHS post between Westminster PCT and Westminster City Council. In April 2012 she joined Suffolk County Council as the Director of Public Health.

Tessa has always worked in health. Before she switched to a population focus, she was a Speech & Language Therapist working both in the UK and Australia where she specialised in neuro disability and technology solutions for people with severe communication impairments. She was always interested in health and social justice, so moving into public health was an inevitable career move for her at some point. It really crystallised for her as a career choice when she worked in Australia, working between rural and urban populations and the native and newer communities in Australia; once back in the UK she retrained as a public health specialist.

She has an ongoing interest in international public health, particularly different health system models and has worked in Swaziland, Bangladesh as well as Ethiopia immediately prior to moving to Suffolk. The press release for her new job was reported in Ethiopia but some of the details did not translate too well.... she was to move to Suffolk to concentrate on public health issues like rebellious plumpness!