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Ian Dodge to leave NHS England

Published on: 24 Jan 2022

A national director and long-serving NHS England board member is to step down from his role later this year, in what is the organisation’s third senior departure to be announced this month.

Staff have today been told Ian Dodge, the national director of primary care, community services and strategy, is to step down from his role in July. He has been on the NHSE board since 2014.

The departures of two other national directors have also been announced this month; Hugh McCaughey, national improvement director; and Sir Keith Willett, national director for emergency planning and incident response.

It comes at a time of ongoing restructure for the national commissioning and regulatory bodies, with NHSE and NHS Improvement due to legally merge later this year.

Mr Dodge’s role will be divided in two when he departs, with NHSE planning to recruit a new chief strategy officer, as well as a national director for primary care and community services.

In a message to staff this afternoon, he said: “After what will have been almost exactly eight years serving on our board, I’ve come to the view that 1 July is the most natural moment for me to leave NHS England, at the same time NHS England and Improvement legally merge and integrated care boards assume their statutory mantle…

“A very few of you who’ve known me the longest will recall it’s always been my intention to move on from a full-time executive role at around about this time in my life. I’m fortunate to be in a position to be able to make that decision now.

“My announcing this decision today also enables a really well-planned transition can take place, in a timely way. Amanda and I have spent some time working out what makes most sense for the different teams in my portfolio.”

At NHSE Mr Dodge was a key figure in the development of the Five Year Forward View, the new care models project, the NHS long term plan, integrated care systems, and the Health and Care Bill expected to take effect on 1 July.

Before joining NHSE, he was had worked in policy in government for about 20 years, mostly at the Department of Health including as director of the NHS group, and for a spell as a senior adviser to prime minister Tony Blair in 2005-06.

He is also currently an adjunct professor at the Institute of Global Health Innovation, Imperial College, London.

He added in his announcement to NHSE staff: “Over the years, my role here has been varied and changeable. Mainly I have played a behind-the-scenes role. Diverse things have flown in and out of my portfolio.

“And that means I have a strong affinity to lots of parts of our organisation and functions outside my current role – for example our analytical services, commissioning support, the work on planning guidance and oversight frameworks, new payment methods, new care models and system transformation, the innovation and research portfolio, the workforce race equality standard and even the reconfiguration of specialised congenital heart disease services.”

Chief executive Amanda Pritchard said: “Over the years, Ian’s role has evolved and adapted so I know many colleagues across our organisation have worked with him and will want to recognise the enormous contribution he has made in everything from innovation and research to the workforce race equality standard…

“We will all miss Ian and I’m hugely grateful for his contribution and leadership, which has in the past two years been incredibly important to the NHS as it’s responded to the greatest public health emergency in a century.”

Ms Pritchard said there would be an open and competitive process to recruit to the new roles.