NHS Confederation chief executive to step down
For immediate release: Thursday 4 June 2020
Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, is to step down from his role in October, having been in post for almost four years.
Recruitment for his replacement is underway and his deputy Danny Mortimer, who is also chief executive of NHS Employers, will take over on an interim basis. Interim arrangements for NHS Employers will be confirmed shortly.
As chief executive since the start of 2017, Niall has steered the Confederation through a challenging period as it has supported its members in coping with the impact of a decade of austerity, rapidly rising demand, Brexit and, now, the unprecedented impact of the pandemic.
Under Niall’s guidance, the Confederation has played a leading role in making the case for a long-term funding settlement for the NHS, working with partners and commissioning the seminal study from the Institute for Fiscal Studies and The Health Foundation to influence the five-year funding settlement that emerged in 2018.
The Confederation has expanded and strengthened its ties with its members across the UK, including through the establishment of a regional team which now serves every part of England. In addition to a vibrant Community Network run in conjunction with NHS Providers, the Confederation has now embraced Integrated Care Systems and Primary Care Networks, setting up formal networks which support both these new elements of the NHS in England. As a result, the Confederation group now represents the spectrum of organisations that commission, plan and deliver NHS services in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, with PCNs and ICS’ joining acute, community, mental health and ambulance trusts, health and social care trusts, health boards, social enterprises, independent sector providers and clinical commissioning groups.
Niall has also ensured the Confederation has used its convening powers to bring together organisations from across the health and care system on issues of common concern to protect the interests of health services and patients. The Confederation established and led both the Brexit Health Alliance and the Cavendish Coalition (focused on the staffing implications of Brexit) which have not only raised the profile of health issues in the Brexit negotiations but have influenced the UK government as well as key players in Europe.
He has also led a major internal reform programme so that there will be integrated units operating in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, reflecting the health systems in which they operate. In England, the new approach recognises the power and value of networks representing different interests, but they and NHS Employers will be part of a single management structure with a shared purpose of supporting an integrated health system.
At the heart of the Confederation’s work under Niall’s direction has been a determination to support the creation of an integrated and sustainable healthcare system which sees itself as part of a wider effort to improve the health and wellbeing of the population. This has led to major initiatives and partnerships with industry, the building of networks to support women leaders and BAME leaders and the setting up of support networks for newly appointed Chief Executives. Niall has also been passionate about the need to support social care and was responsible for setting up and leading the Health for Care coalition, which has brought together 15 national organisations in health to campaign for social care reform.
Lord Victor Adebowale, chair of the NHS Confederation, said:
“Niall has had an outstanding career leading with distinction three major national healthcare organisations after many years as one of the most respected journalists covering health and social issues. At the Confederation he has been an outstanding leader and leaves us in a much stronger place than when he arrived. With integrated care systems and primary care networks having joined us, we are able to support and represent the views of organisations right across the NHS. The future lies in more integrated care and more collaborative working and we are better placed than ever to serve our members in the challenging times ahead.
“Niall has also been a highly effective operator at national level working in partnership with others, but also in public and in private advocating effectively on behalf of our members, not least during these unprecedented times. He has also been a strong representative internationally representing the UK and the NHS, serving on the governing councils of the global and European healthcare representative bodies.
“We will certainly build on this legacy, including the ground-breaking partnership he created with NHS England and NHS Improvement to host a new ConfedExpo event for three years. The fact that ConfedExpo20 was set to be the largest and most commercially successful event in the Confederation’s history makes us even more determined to take this forward next year.
“We are now proceeding to recruit Niall’s replacement and I am grateful to Danny Mortimer for agreeing to step into the role of chief executive during this period. The organisation will be in capable hands – Danny is an experienced and highly regarded leader who understands and is well known to our members and I look forward to working with him and the very capable senior team at the Confederation.”
Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said:
“It has been a privilege to serve the Confederation and its members over the last few years and I am confident the organisation and what it stands for will continue to grow and develop in the years ahead.
“It has also been an honour to work with our members - the health service is fortunate in having a group of dedicated and forward-looking leaders who too often are not recognised for what they achieve. A new generation is emerging with the confidence, the ability and the vision to protect and transform this great British institution, and I know the Confederation is committed to doing everything it can to support them to succeed.
“I want to thank the Confederation’s Trustees for their unstinting support – I know the organisation will thrive under them and our new chair, Victor Adebowale, who has already brought fresh thinking and new ideas that I know will benefit our members in the years to come. My special thanks also go to my senior team and to the Confederation’s staff who have not only responded brilliantly during the current emergency but have risen to so many challenges and delivered for our members in so many ways.”
Niall has had a long and varied career, including as editor of Nursing Times in the 1980s and at the BBC where he worked for 15 years as health correspondent and then social affairs editor. He has been chief executive of the NHS Confederation since February 2017, and before that he was chief executive of the General Medical Council and chief executive of The King’s Fund. Among his international roles he chaired the International Association of Medical Regulatory Authorities. He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2017 Birthday Honours for services to patient safety.