Published: 13/06/2002, Volume II2, No.5809 Page 4

Southampton University academic Barry McCormick has been appointed the Department of Health's chief economic adviser.

Professor McCormick is currently head of economics at Southampton and a respected labour market economist.

He will take over from Clive Smee, who had to delay his retirement while the DoH attempted to find a suitable replacement.

Professor McCormick does not specialise in health service economics but his standing within wider academic circles is high.

One source told HSJ: 'I do not think [his background] is a serious issue at all, but he will have a very steep learning curve as he comes to terms with the intricacies of the NHS.

'Obviously the thinking behind bringing him to the DoH is his labour market knowledge.

'He will use his talents to look at productivity, quality and workforce issues.

'There is a lot of extra money about and he will be looking to ensure It is not wasted.'

One academic described it as 'a very interresting appointment'.

'His labour market background could be useful, but you have to remember the NHS is not like producing cars at a local Rover plant where the data is easily defined... 'It will be interesting to see how long he lasts, whether he can have the necessary impact.'