Authority figure

Coal Board consultant, leisure planner, council chief executive, health boss - Terry Hanafin is Mr Local Public Services. By Paul Gosling

`My message to young people early in their career is not to get themselves into cul-de-sacs. There is no job for life any more, so you have to make yourself attractive in the jobs market."

Terry Hanafin's advice to graduates and junior executives is worth listening to as he has achieved the rare distinction of being chief executive both of a health authority and a council. He achieved this after a career break from local government to work for the King's Fund College conducting management training and consultancy for health trusts. That gave him the diversity of experience to manage virtually anywhere in the public services.

His commitment to public services is a birthright. Born into a working- class family but going to university at Oxford, the experience not only led him to the public sector as a vocation, but also took him to Brent council as an elected Labour member for 10 years. Other chief executives, notably Mick Lyons at Birmingham, have also found their political histories no bar to top management, although senior officers are no longer allowed to be politically active.

But Terry Hanafin is also an example of another trend in public services - the rise of the corporate manager. His degree course included study in operational research, and his first job with the National Coal Board was as an operational researcher, in effect an internal management consultant. He moved from there to become a leisure services planner in Greenwich borough. He then joined Camden borough as a corporate planner, but soon decided the authority was not committed to the concept. "The lesson is if you are in the wrong job get out quickly," he says.

From there, at just 25, he became head of corporate planning at Lewisham. "It was a really tough job," recalls Mr Hanafin. "The first two weeks were the worst two weeks of my life. Most of the chief officers told me my unit was a waste of time and money, and the ones that didn't made it pretty clear that was what they believed."

Gradually, though, he gained the trust of the chief officers as well as councillors. His responsibilities increased, and he oversaw the transfer of over 30 services from the disbanded GLC, which he describes as "probably the most satisfying job of my life" despite personally disagreeing with the abolition.

By the time Terry Hanafin left Lewisham for his stint at the King's Fund his job had been repeatedly expanded and revised, and he had become redesignated assistant chief executive. He returned to Lewisham two years later as chief executive.

For a few weeks in 1992 Mr Hanafin achieved notoriety in the fly-on- the-wall BBC TV documentary, Town Hall, starring as the affable chief executive coping with the back-stabbing of the ruling Labour group. Those programmes illuminate his explanation of why he allowed himself to be head-hunted by Croydon health authority when his five-year contract at Lewisham was completed.

"I do believe in local democracy, but the reality in many local authorities is that they are not very satisfying because you don't have the space to use your skills and experience productively," says Mr Hanafin. "Members treat senior officers with little respect. Just look at the turnover of senior staff in some authorities."

Mr Hanafin believes all councils should consider codes of conduct that spell out the roles of councillors and officers, requiring councillors to leave employees the scope necessary to carry out their work.

If local government is sometimes the arena for too much eccentricity, and too many attempts at declaring independence, the reverse may apply as a manager in the National Health Service. "At Croydon I am part of a national service. The real issue is how much discretion we have. The more we have the greater the argument for local elections to boards," suggests Mr Hanafin.

"There is not a lot of discretion in my view. As soon as anyone tries local rationing they get told you will not do this. Given that the Secretary of State for Health appoints chairs and members of boards, it is very clear where the accountability lies. Guidance isn't guidance in the health service. There is not a lot of policy discretion, but there is a lot of managerial discretion."

In a sense, moving to Croydon Health from Lewisham council was no advance, as the total expenditure was much smaller, and he moved from having charge of 11,000 employees to just 150. But the challenge of controlling an organisation adapting to the health service reforms was something Terry Hanafin found irresistible.

The process of change is not yet complete, and Mr Hanafin is not interested in moving until he has seen through the transformation. That takes him at least to the end of the renewed three-year contract he signed last year, and after that he would be attracted by a different sort of challenge at a large NHS trust, a major executive agency, or even a return to local government. But this time only a major authority, such as a big county, would interest him, and only if he was given the assurance that he could get on with his job without undue interferencen

Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Joseph Kynaston Reeves arguing with Russell Brand outside the RBS’s London offices on Friday
voicesDJ Taylor: The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a worker's rant to Russell Brand
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
News
Xander van der Burgt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
scienceA Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Ashdown Group: Trainee / Graduate Helpdesk Analyst

£20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Software Developer

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Join a fast growing software co...

Guru Careers: Graduate Account Executive / Digital Account Executive

£20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Graduate / Digital Account Exe...

Guru Careers: Junior Designer / Design Graduate

£18k: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Junior Designer / Design Graduate to join...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick