WORKFORCE: Sir Neil McKay has been appointed chair of the North Cumbria success regime, the NHS Trust Development Authority has announced.

The national programme, which had its first “stakeholder meeting” in North Cumbria last Friday, is aimed at turning around health economies with serious care quality, performance and financial troubles.

North Cumbria was one of the first three regions placed into the success regime in June, with Northern, Eastern and Western Devon, and Essex.

Sir Neil is a former chief executive of the East of England Strategic Health Authority, then Midlands and East SHA Cluster; as well as a former chief operating officer of the Department of Health and chief executive of Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust.

In a statement he said the key to the North Cumbria success regime would be “agreeing services which are both safe and affordable in the long term, and which meet the healthcare needs of local people”.

Ben Gummer, health minister for care quality, said the inaugural meeting of the North Cumbria success regime was an “important step in bringing together all key partners who are committed to the future of the region’s health and care system”.

Cumbria was one of 11 financially challenged health economies which received strategic planning support from national bodies last year, and the region’s main acute provider, North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust, has been in special measures for more than two years because of longstanding quality problems.

There have been ongoing efforts to reconfigure services in both the north and south of Cumbria, and the health economy has been in financial deficit for several years.

Cumbria, and the other success regime regions – Essex and Northern, Eastern and Western Devon – have all recently advertised for the role of programme directors for their respective schemes. In each case the post has been offered as a two year fixed contract or as a secondment.

The job advert for the posts, drawn up by NHS England, Monitor and TDA – which oversee the initiative together – states: “It is expected that the programme director will have substantive and significant experience of operating at chief executive or senior board-level in the NHS, ideally in strategic or regulatory roles.”

HSJ is awaiting confirmation about how Sir Neil’s role relates to that of programme director in Cumbria.