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ICS gets new boss after eight-month wait

Published on: 4 May 2023

A new chair has been announced for South West London Integrated Care Board, eight months after his predecessor quit following a row over a ‘toxic’ working environment.

Mike Bell was yesterday announced as the permanent replacement for Millie Banerjee, who left last summer following complaints about the working culture at NHS Blood and Transplant, which she had previously chaired.

An advert for the new chair was issued in October but HSJ reported last week that the appointment, along with several other overdue board roles which must be signed off by the health and social care secretary.

Mr Bell is currently chair of Lewisham and Greenwich Trust, a role NHS England said he would continue to hold in tandem. Lewisham and Greenwich Trust is in neighbouring South East London ICS.

Interim regional director for the capital Helen Pettersen said the role was “hugely important”.

She said in a statement: “Mike’s extensive local knowledge and leadership experience, combined with his ability to build impactful, lasting partnerships across health and care, will be a real asset for the people of south west London.”

Mr Bell chaired Croydon Health Services Trust for 10 years and was vice chair of NHS London when it was a statutory body as a strategic health authority.

South West London is one of the capital’s better performing systems, particularly on elective recovery, although it faces the same workforce, urgent care and financial problems as others.

Mr Bell said: “We have much to be proud of across our partnerships, with hospital trusts in south west London delivering some of the shortest waiting times for elective care in the country and local authorities and community partners leading innovative practices to keep our communities well, but there is still work to be done and I look forward to working with colleagues to ensure we are doing everything we can to improve health inequalities across south west London.”

It comes as Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and West Berkshire ICS’s chair is on long-term leave amid wider concerns about unstable leadership, poor relationships and staff dissatisfaction at the organisation.