Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation and ardent campaigner for social care reform, is to step down from his role in October, having been in the role for almost four years.
Recruitment for his replacement is underway and his deputy Danny Mortimer, who is also chief executive of NHS Employers, will take over on an interim basis.
As chief executive since the start of 2017, Dickson has used his position at the Confederation, which represents organisations across the healthcare sector, to make a case for a sustainable, long-term settlement for social care.
He was responsible for setting up and leading the Health for Care coalition, which has brought together 15 organisations in health to campaign for social care reform.
Writing to the then Prime Minister, Theresa May, in March 2019, he said it is unusual for one part of the public sector to argue for more funding for another part, but the NHS is “increasingly dependent on social care” and this move is a sign of “frustration and desperation” within the health sector.
Also under Niall’s leadership, the Confederation produced a survey that revealed how Britain’s social care crisis is damaging the way care is being delivered across the NHS.
A snap poll found that 97% of leaders from NHS trusts, CCGs and private providers believe that persistent neglect of the social care system is hampering the way the NHS can treat its patients.
“This survey demonstrates just how seriously the social care crisis is impacting the NHS. We have seen the most challenging performance figures in recent days and they certainly reflect the fact the health service is having to deliver alongside a social care service that is on its knees,” Dickson said in November.
Dickson has also ensured the Confederation has used its convening powers to bring together organisations from across the health and care system on issues of common concern to protect the interests of health services and patients.
The Confederation established and led both the Brexit Health Alliance and the Cavendish Coalition – focused on the staffing implications of Brexit – which have not only raised the profile of health issues in the Brexit negotiations, but have influenced the UK government as well as key players in Europe.
Lord Victor Adebowale, chair of the NHS Confederation, said: “Niall he has been an outstanding leader and leaves us in a much stronger place than when he arrived. With integrated care systems and primary care networks having joined us, we are able to support and represent the views of organisations right across the NHS. The future lies in more integrated care and more collaborative working and we are better placed than ever to serve our members in the challenging times ahead.”
Dickson commented: “It has been a privilege to serve the Confederation and its members over the last few years and I am confident the organisation and what it stands for will continue to grow and develop in the years ahead.
“It has also been an honour to work with our members – the health service is fortunate in having a group of dedicated and forward-looking leaders who too often are not recognised for what they achieve. A new generation is emerging with the confidence, the ability and the vision to protect and transform this great British institution, and I know the Confederation is committed to doing everything it can to support them to succeed.”