A senior Whitehall official is set to be the new chief executive of Greater Manchester’s health system, HSJ has learned.
Several well-placed sources said Mark Fisher has been chosen as preferred candidate to lead the integrated care board, after the job was advertised for a second time.
The appointment is thought to be awaiting final sign off nationally.
Mr Fisher, who has not previously worked in the NHS, is currently director general and secretary to the Grenfell Tower public inquiry, which falls within the remit of the Cabinet Office.
Prior to this he was director of the Office for Civil Society, also within the Cabinet Office, and previously held director roles within the Department of Work and Pensions.
An initial recruitment process for the ICB role was held last year, but a candidate was not appointed.
Greater Manchester is deemed to be one of the more advanced health systems, having effectively had a funded ICB team in place for several years, under a ‘devolution’ deal for health services. This funding has now ended.
Over this time, the system’s leaders have generally sought to put more emphasis on improving the underlying health of the population, by trying to address issues such as poor housing, homelessness, and obesity.
It is the second time a Whitehall official has been chosen to lead the GM system, after former Department of Health and Social Care director general Jon Rouse was appointed in 2016. He quit in 2020, expressing frustration at the NHS England’s fixation with performance targets.
Mr Fisher was at the DWP while universal credit was being implemented, and in an interview with Civil Service World in 2012 spoke of the importance of tackling the root causes of long-term welfare dependency such as multi-generational worklessness, mental health problems, debt and drug addiction.
He said: “[My] personal hobby horse is driving approaches to achieve multiple results, because if you can configure systems with all the providers for reducing offending, driving employment, reducing drug addiction, I think we could see some powerful progress.”
A spokeswoman for the GM system said an announcement would be made soon.