Richard Meddings will bring an ‘outsider’s eye’ to the challenges of the NHS, government hopes
“He’s a great combination between someone with really fantastic experience over many, many years and who knows how to roll his sleeves up and get in beneath a large operation.” Debbie Crosbie, CEO, Nationwide
A former senior banker has been appointed as chair of NHS England.
Richard Meddings, who was previously chair of TSB Bank, will be paid £63,000 a year for working two to three days a week. He is also a non-executive director at Credit Suisse and HM Treasury, and has been the group finance director for Standard Chartered Bank.
A chartered accountant by background, Meddings has not previously held any positions within the NHS. His predecessor, Conservative peer Lord Prior, had held positions as health minister and chair of two NHS hospital trusts before becoming chair of NHS England. An unnamed government source told the Financial Times that Meddings’s “outsider’s eye” would “help deliver the accountability that’s needed as we drive through reforms.” Javid was also keen to appoint a chair from the private sector to complement the hiring of Amanda Pritchard, with her lengthy NHS experience, as CEO.
The health and social care committee will hold a pre-appointment scrutiny hearing with Meddings before he formally takes on the role. The committee does not have power to veto his appointment, however.
The Daily Telegraph, which first reported the appointment, quoted a Whitehall insider as saying: “We can’t have business as usual when it comes to the health service – reform is needed to deliver an NHS that serves patients for years to come.”
According to the FT, Javid was said to be impressed by Meddings’s achievement at TSB. After becoming chair at the bank in February 2018, he helped clear up a corporate mess caused by IT problems and a resulting slump in customer satisfaction. The bank now runs its own IT system and has improved its customer service ranking.
Javid’s plans for the NHS include wholesale replacement of paper-based processes with digital ones to improve both efficiency and public accountability. The government recently announced an additional investment of £12bn into health and social care, funded by a 1.25% rise in national insurance, and part of Meddings’s role will be to make sure that that investment brings results. Currently the NHS is facing a backlog of 5.7m patients waiting for hospital treatment.
Debbie Crosbie, who was appointed chief executive at TSB by Meddings and is now chief executive of Nationwide, told the paper that Meddings had “a real passion for doing the right things for society” and would therefore be a good fit for the job: “He’s a great combination between someone with really fantastic experience over many, many years and who knows how to roll his sleeves up and get in beneath a large operation.”