Former Health Secretary Alan Johnson is taking on the role of Independent Chair at a company which has transformed Hull’s health estate.
The former Health, Education and Home Secretary, who has recently stepped down as Hull West and Hessle MP, has turned down other national opportunities to take up the position at Citycare.
Part-owned by the NHS, the public private partnership was set up in 2004 and has since delivered 13 new health and wellbeing centres across Hull, alongside other major refurbishment projects and a wide range of other estates services generating over £250 million of economic impact for the city.
Since then, the company has also worked with public sector partners to rationalise and drive improvements across their existing facilities.
Now, Alan, will take over from current Independent Chair Charles Lewis as the business moves forward and said he is proud to take up the position.
He said: “I have turned down a lot of offers to sit on other boards, but Citycare, to me, is a direct link to what I have been doing without getting back into the political field.
“Some of the offers I received meant working in London, which I don’t want to do full time.
“The role of Independent Chair is very special. You need to bring balance to discussions between the stakeholders and, as an ambassador, also have a responsibility to society more widely.”
Alan said the health and wellbeing centres have put Hull on the map.
“When I was an MP, I often said that one of the most unheralded revolutions in health around Hull was the transformation of the health estate,” he said.
“It revolutionised health and it was part of my ambition as Health Secretary to do something about health inequalities.
“It started in my constituency at the corner of Plane Street with Newington Health Care Centre and the new facilities are iconic buildings people are proud of. If you look at them now, they are in the same condition as when they were built.
“There is an opportunity to make better use of what these health centres were originally designed for and bring more services under one roof.
“The idea is to bring health care closer to the patient, rather than making trips back and forth to the acute services. The Hull Integrated Care Centre, which is one of our latest projects, is a fantastic example of this.
“I have also been impressed by the innovative solutions Citycare is creating to maximise space within public sector partners’ buildings, as well as the team’s ability to respond to the ever changing landscape in the NHS and across the public sector.
“It’s not always about new buildings but about working collaboratively across the public sector to solve property problems.”
Alan will also become Independent Chair of Shared Agenda, Citycare’s sister company, which was set up four years ago to take the same value for money approach to dealing with challenges in the public sector estate across Yorkshire and the North East.
He said there is an “enormous opportunity” following Sir Robert Naylor’s review of NHS property and estates and how to make best use of the buildings and land.
He added: “A third of the NHS estate existed before the NHS was created in 1948 and that has to be updated.
“It seems to me that we have something special in Hull and there’s no reason why that can’t be exported and be a model of best practice elsewhere.
“It’s about bringing lessons from Citycare to other areas of public service and there are some very exciting opportunities there that will take us further afield.”
Charles Lewis, the outgoing Chairman, said he was pleased to hand over the role to Alan after being Independent Chair since 2004.
He said: “Over the last year or so, I have been of the view that I should be preparing to stand down and I am absolutely delighted that Alan has agreed to succeed me as Chair.
“After all, Chairs and Chief Executives have, or should recognise that they have, a timeframe during which they can fully contribute, and stepping down in favour of a strong successor with new ideas can only be for the good.
“Alan will be joining a team which I hold in the very highest regard and they in turn will have a Chair who so many of us respect so highly.
“Whilst I will greatly miss my involvement with such a wonderful initiative and team, I will handover confident that I will have fully discharged my last responsibility as Chair – that is to ensure a succession which will build on what the company has achieved and move this wonderful business on to the next exciting stage of its development.”
Jo Barnes, Chief Executive of Citycare and Managing Director of Shared Agenda, recognised the time, expertise and commitment Charles has provided since 2004 and welcomed Alan to the role.
“This is a really exciting time for the two companies,” she said.
“Charles has helped steer us through the first 13 years of Citycare’s life and has done a sterling job.
“His support has helped us to make huge inroads into bringing health, wellbeing and social care together in a sustainable way for the benefit of patients.
“As we enter this new chapter, on behalf of the Board we are delighted to welcome Alan Johnson as our new Chair. Our focus across both companies will be to help our public sector customers and partners find new opportunities to improve services and achieve sustainable savings.
“Alan brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the role and this will be invaluable to us, our partners and our customers as we move forward.”