Ministers have chosen a senior banker as the new chair of NHS England, with a brief to push through changes in the way the service operates and cut spiralling waiting lists.
Richard Meddings, a former chair of TSB Bank, will take over the role early in the new year. He will be paid £63,000 a year for working two to three days a week, the Cabinet Office said .
He will succeed Conservative peer Lord Prior of Brampton, who has held the post for four years. However, unlike Prior – who had been a health minister and chaired two NHS hospital trusts before taking over – Meddings is not thought to have any previous experience of the health service.
He is taking over at a time when the government is keen for the NHS to improve the way it works, and use innovative means to tackle the 5.7 million-strong backlog of care patients, and deliver value for money for the record funding it is due to receive in the next few years.
A 1.25% rise in national insurance in April will yield about £12bn a year to help improve both healthcare and social care.
The Cabinet Office said in a statement on Thursday: “Richard Meddings has been named as the government’s preferred candidate for the next chair of NHS England.
“Sajid Javid, the secretary of state for health and social care, has today invited the health and social care committee to hold a pre-appointment scrutiny hearing with Richard.”
The Commons committee, chaired by the former health secretary and Tory leadership contender Jeremy Hunt, will question Meddings at a confirmation hearing early next year. However, while it can offer Javid its thoughts as to his suitability for the post it cannot block him from taking up the role.
The Daily Telegraph, which revealed the appointment, quoted a Whitehall source who said Meddings “has unrivalled business experience and will bring an outsider’s eye to the NHS”.
The source added: “We can’t have business as usual when it comes to the health service. Reform is needed to deliver an NHS that serves patients for years to come.”
Meddings will take over shortly before changes contained in the health and care bill going through parliament hand Javid much more control over NHS England and reduce its independence from the Department of Health and Social Care.
They will also formalise major changes in the way the NHS in England operates through the creation of 44 “integrated care systems”, which bring providers of different types of health services and local councils together across a region.
Meddings, whose background is in chartered accountancy, is also a non-executive director of the Treasury. He has held a number of other senior roles in banking.
Source: The Guardian