Ex-banker NHS chair must ‘get up to speed’ on social care, MPs warn

MPs approve government’s preferred choice for £63,000 part-time role but say decision was not unanimous

Rebecca Thomas
Health Correspondent
Thursday 20 January 2022 08:49

The new chair of the NHS must get up to speed on social care, MPs have warned as they approved the banking chief’s appointment.

The appointment of Richard Meddings as new chair of NHS England has been approved by the government’s Health Committee, following an interview on Tuesday.

Mr Meddings, former chair of the UK subsidiary of Credit Suisse and TSB bank, has been chosen at the government’s preferred candidate.

His appointment comes as care watchdog the Care Quality Commission has appointed another former finance chief, Ian Dilks, as its new chair. Mr Dilks is the senior independent director of Royal London Insurance and has a background working with major accounting firm Price Waterhouse Coopers.

The Health and Social Care Committee said in a report on Wednesday: “We recognise that Mr Meddings has an impressive professional background, but we were concerned about some of the answers he provided during the session, especially on social care. We approve the appointment of the candidate, although this was not a unanimous view across the Committee.”

The report added: “We raised our concerns over Mr Meddings’ lack of specific experience of the health and social care sectors. Previous Chairs of NHS England have usually had experience working in health and social care, or in NHS Trusts.

“Mr Meddings recognised his lack of direct experience but reasoned that the role was essentially a governance role. He also told us that he was keen to immerse himself in the issues to gain an understanding of the challenges the sector is facing.”

In an answer to a questionnaire published by the committee describing his recruitment, Mr Meddings said: “I was approached by head hunters. I was initially apprehensive but it was explained that there was strong health knowledge and expertise around the board, and clearly in the senior management below board level, but the aim was to bring fresh insights, strong experience of board governance, digital and financial skills, and courage in adversity and strategic leadership.”

During his reappointment hearing, Mr Meddings said he used private care in 2021 after being diagnosed with a DVT – a blood clot in a vein.

However he stressed he was a user of the NHS and had private health insurance as part of the perks from his previous banking roles.

He will be paid £63,000 per year for working two to three days a week.

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