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Updated: Fifth Midlands ICS fails to recruit chief executive

Published on: 15 Nov 2021

Another integrated care system in the Midlands has failed to appoint a chief executive designate for its new integrated care board.

Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent ICS announced today (Monday) that it had not selected a new leader after the first round of recruitment. 

A letter, sent on behalf of the ICB’s chair designate Prem Singh said: “Unfortunately following a thorough recruitment process, we have not been able to appoint to the ICB CEO designate position. I am working with the regional director to put in place an interim ICB CEO and will notify you as soon as we confirm the arrangement.”

This means five systems in the Midlands have failed to appoint a chief executive. The other four ICSs are: Black Country and West Birmingham, Coventry and Warwickshire, Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin, and Birmingham and Solihull.

To date, 24 of the 42 ICS chief executive positions has been confirmed, with another six systems in other parts of England unable to appoint. 

Black Country ICB chair designate Jonathan Fellows said: “Over the next few months we expect to restart the recruitment process to ultimately find someone who can work with system partners to create a fully mature, thriving ICB with a strong place-based approach to delivery and transformation. In the meantime we are working on interim arrangements to ensure strong leadership over this transitional period.” 

In Birmingham and Solihull ICS David Melbourne, who has been leading the ICS’s development, will be designate interim chief executive of the ICB. Karen Helliwell will remain as interim accountable officer of the CCG.

Frances O’Callaghan, the current lead for North Central London ICS, has been appointed CEO designate for the system while Andrew Bland has been appointed for South East London ICS. He is currently joint executive lead for the system.

Rob Hurd, current North Central London ICS executive lead, has been appointed chief executive of North West London’s integrated care board. He was seconded to NCL ICS from his role as chief executive of the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital Trust, helping to lead the systems response to the pandemic.

Sarah Blow has been announced CEO designate of South West London’s ICB. She is currently the ICS lead and CCG accountable officer.

Meanwhile Jonathan Higman, current CEO of Yeovil Trust which is merging with Somerset FT, will take the helm at Somerset ICS.

Recruitment started in the autumn for the chief executive designates, and several have been confirmed over Thursday and Friday — see the full list below.

So far five ICSs have failed to appoint a CEO following a recruitment process.

Greater Manchester is one of the largest ICSs and has been regarded by some as a leader in integration and system working, having been made a “devolved” NHS region five years ago, and becoming one of the first ICSs. Its interim lead, Sarah Price, will continue as interim chief officer until another attempt in the new year. 

In a statement, Greater Manchester’s ICB chair designate Sir Richard Leese said: ”I wanted to let you know that we have not appointed to this significant role this time and will be seeking new candidates in due course. 

”In the meantime, the recruitment of non-executive directors for the ICB is under way, and I can confirm the intention is to begin the appointment process for executive roles in December.”

The Shropshire ICS said the ”recruitment process to identify a permanent chief executive will restart imminently”. It said the incumbent, Mark Brandreth, had “decided not to pursue this opportunity”, and he would remain in the interim.

Meanwhile, Lancashire and South Cumbria ICS has appointed Kevin Lavery as its integrated care board chief executive designate. He has most recently been chief executive of Wellington City Council in New Zealand. Prior to this he led Cornwall Council, and was also chief executive of outsourcing giant Serco for two years in the mid-2000s.

And in Cheshire and Merseyside, NHSE’s North West regional director of performance and Improvement Graham Urwin has been appointed chief executive designate. He has a local government finance background and worked as the North West regional incident director throughout the pandemic.

The new CEOs are “chief executive designates” for the NHS Integrated Care Body for their ICS, and will be confirmed in this role if the Health and Care Bill is passed by Parliament, as expected, early next year. Under the bill, ICBs will from April be the part of ICSs’ structure which will make most executive decisions and will control NHS resources, including taking on the functions of clinical commissioning groups.

Recruitment for the 42 ICS CEO roles started in the autumn, run by NHS England.