KIRKLEES Council's chief executive Tony Elson has been chosen to spearhead a Government health mission.
He will help provide a link between national and local government and health agencies in a bid to reduce `postcode' inequalities in the delivery of health services across the country.
The appointment follows a direct request for help to the leader of the council, Clr Kath Pinnock, from the public health minister, Melanie Johnson.
Mr Elson will spend one day a week on his task for the next two years.
The work will take him initially to London for several weeks before he starts on a programme of visits to local councils and health authorities, working to a joint national and local authority agenda.
His primary aim will be to identify why life expectancy varies so significantly between one part of the country and another.
It is already known that this phenomenon is strongly influenced by each area's level of affluence.
He said: "This is a very challenging area of work and I am pleased to be taking on the task of leading the local government implementation part of the national programme.
"In essence this is a joint working initiative across the whole of government, aimed at narrowing the gap in life expectancy and general quality of health that exists between people from different social backgrounds and areas of the country.
"The council will be paid by the Government for my involvement in this national project.
"Over the last few years in particular there has been a lot of joint working between councils and health services," he said.
"It has become very clear that improvements in public health depend as much on the kinds of services that councils provide as on the state of our hospitals and the latest drug treatments.
"For example, well heated and maintained homes reduce ill health and home accidents. Traffic calming and road safety programmes save lives and serious injuries.
"Easily accessible leisure opportunities encourage people to take regular exercise.
"There are many, many examples that show how council services help people live fit and healthy lives for more years.
"The challenge is to make sure that everyone benefits from these kinds of services wherever they live, and regardless of their wealth or background."