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Exclusive: NHSE appoints joint equality lead

Published on: 21 Jul 2022

NHS England has appointed a major trust’s chief people officer as its new joint director of equality, diversity and inclusion, HSJ has learned.

Oxford University Hospitals Foundation Trust’s chief people officer Terry Roberts will take up the role on a fixed-term basis until April 2023, according to an internal announcement seen by HSJ.

He will take over on 1 August from Dorset Integrated Care Board chair Jenni Douglas-Todd, who stepped down last month to chair University Hospital Southampton FT.

HSJ understands Mr Roberts will serve in the national role part-time while continuing as OUH’s chief people officer. It is currently unclear whether a substantive joint EDI director appointment will be made beyond his term.

Mr Roberts will work alongside Mike Franklin, who serves as the other joint EDI director, as he begins a phased return to his role next month following a period of long-term sickness.

HSJ revealed in March that Mr Franklin, who was appointed in July 2020 alongside Ms Douglas-Todd, had been away since July 2021.

In the announcement made yesterday, NHSE’s national director of people Em Wilkinson-Brice said: “I know that this remains a challenging time and that change can be difficult to navigate, so I wanted to thank our EDI colleagues for continuing to work skilfully and sensitively throughout these unpredictable times to ensure fairness and equity for all NHS staff.

“I continue to be struck by the tenacity and passion for the EDI agenda and everyone’s work to enable us to build momentum nationally.

“I also want to reassure you that I remain personally committed to continuing this important work, and I am keen to ensure that I support your efforts to help every member of our diverse workforce to feel included, valued and supported in any way I can.

“It remains vital that we continue to make progress in this area, and ensure we harness the talents of all the staff that work within the NHS.”

NHSE is undergoing a major restructure, with between 30 and 40 per cent of posts expected to be cut over the next year following its merger with Health Education England and NHS Digital.

The NHSE people directorate has also undergone significant change as HEE chief executive Navina Evans has been appointed the new chief workforce officer of an expanded department.

It comes after NHSE’s former chief people officer Prerana Issar departed earlier this year. Ms Wilkinson-Brice, who took over from her in the interim during her absence, has now become the NHSE’s new national director of people.