Obituary: Clifford Graham

Clifford Graham, civil servant: born Liverpool 3 April 1937; Clerical Officer, Admiralty 1954-59; Executive Officer, Customs and Excise 1959-65; Higher Executive Officer, Ministry of Health 1965-68; Principal, DHSS (later Department of Health) 1969- 74, Assistant Secretary 1975-82, Under-Secretary 1983-94; called to the Bar, Gray's Inn 1969; Director, Institute of Health, King's College London 1990-94; twice married (two sons, one daughter); died Milton Clevedon, Somerset 2 July 1994.

CLIFFORD GRAHAM was one of the people who made things happen in the National Health Service and in the wider issues of a healthy community. His work with Sir Roy Griffiths led to the introduction of general management in the NHS; he collaborated with the barrister Louis Blom- Cooper in tackling problems in mental health and illness and he was chairman of Newpin, an organisation concerned with disadvantage and abuse in the family. Graham epitomised imaginative management and would not be distracted from pursuing action on policies he thought to be right; indeed he took pleasure in exploring unconventional pathways to a proper end. That he was a civil servant, and grateful to the service for the chance it gave him, makes this all the more remarkable.

Cliff Graham made his own way in life from a childhood in Liverpool that established lifetime interests in cycling and Everton Football Club, through night- school qualification as a barrister, of which he was always proud, to a career in the civil service from clerical officer in the Admiralty to Under-Secretary in the Department of Health. He was first noticed for his contribution to the Woodbine Parish Study on Estate Management in the Health Service that opened the way for his contribution to the policies on resource allocation and the development of information systems.

Then, in the early Eighties, Graham was more personally identified when he worked with Griffiths and colleagues on the NHS Management Inquiry and was promoted to Under-Secretary to see through the introduction of general management in the NHS. Change in the health service is known for the turbulence it generates, and it is therefore notable that a concept of such far-reaching consequence was introduced, despite professional opposition, but has not been seriously questioned since. Under-Secretaries see many changes in their time, but few make a difference such as Graham did.

Graham worked with Derek Rayner during his scrutinies and then during a sabbatical year with Brian Abel Smith at the London School of Economics on Consumer Satisfaction. During his time as Under-Secretary in the Mental Health Division of the department he worked closely with Blom-Cooper at the Mental Health Act Commission; he established the Special Health Authority for secure hospitals and met Jimmy Savile in their work for Broadmoor Hospital. A chance encounter led to Graham's becoming a trustee and then chairman of Newpin, which began in south London and has spread across Britain. Latterly he directed the Institute for Health at King's College, and undertook several roving commissions on a wide variety of topics such as health services in Jordan, managed care in the United States and initiatives on alternative medicines and therapies.

Those who knew him in the diverse aspects of his life all recognised his ability to get wheels turning and were grateful for the way he attacked an issue with energy and immediacy. He brought the best out of people by his encouraging and supportive approach and could talk to anyone and get them to play their part. He helped the world at large to work with the civil service and helped the civil service to concentrate on the issues that had practical consequence.

Graham loved cycling all his life. He bought a mountain bike only two years ago and often took off exploring the West Country around his house in Milton Clevedon, near Shepton Mallet. Given his notoriously bad sense of direction these forays could lead to considerably greater expenditure of energy than was at first anticipated, and arrival at some engagement only in the nick of time. His Christmas cards were always fun because he penned a few thoughts about times past and present that were sometimes illegible even for the author. He loved music, particularly opera and the English composers Elgar and Delius, whom passing locals came to know such was his preferred volume on the stereo when relaxing in a bath.

That was the contrast between a professional life of great intensity and commitment and the ability to relax at home and on holiday in Greece. It is good to think that his second wife Sarah has as her last memory of him just such a holiday - she is expecting their child in November.

Peter Simpson

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR and Payroll Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This dynamic outsourced contact...

Recruitment Genius: Production & Quality Control Assistant

£19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity for a ...

Ashdown Group: Group HR Advisor - Kettering - £32,000

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group HR Advisor with an established...

Guru Careers: HR Manager / HR Generalist

£40 - 50k (DOE) + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a HR Manager / HR Genera...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss