An interim chief officer has been appointed to oversee the implementation of the first stages of Greater Manchester’s health devolution deal.

A Manchester City Council spokesman confirmed to HSJ’s sister title Local Government Chronicle that Ian Williamson, chief officer of Central Manchester Clinical Commissioning Group, had taken up the role.

Ian Williamson

Ian Williamson spent six years as a primary care trust chief executive in the North West

Mr Williamson is also the senior officer responsible for the controversial reorganisation of healthcare services across Greater Manchester under the Healthier Together programme. This is seeking to concentrate emergency and high risk general surgery, currently delivered at 10 hospitals, on four or five sites.

In his new role he will be responsible to the recently established Greater Manchester health and social care devolution programme board.

The board, which is due to be placed on a statutory footing by the end of 2015-16, will oversee spending of Greater Manchester’s £6bn health and social care budget from April 2016.  

Its members include Sir Howard Bernstein, who is Manchester City Council chief executive and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s head of paid service, and NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens, alongside representatives from local authorities, CCGs, and providers.

According to the memorandum of understanding setting out the terms of the devolution deal, over the next 12 months the board will be responsible for “strategic oversight”.

Over the coming months, Mr Williamson will ultimately be responsible for ensuring appropriate staffing and resources are in place, strengthening governance arrangements, and drawing up a business case by October which will, according to the memorandum, “inform submissions to the forthcoming comprehensive spending review”.

Mr Williamson has worked in Manchester since 2010. Prior to that, he held a number of senior roles in the NHS including six years as a primary care trust chief executive in Merseyside and Cheshire.  

The council spokesman said Mr Williamson had been fully seconded to the new chief officer role for the next six months. The permanent chief officer post will then be advertised in November.

The spokesman said Joanne Newton, Central Manchester CCG’s chief finance officer, had been made acting chief officer of the group while Mr Williamson was on secondment.