Jim Mackey is to become the first chief executive of the new NHS provider regulator, NHS Improvement.

The Northumbria Healthcare Foundation Trust chief executive is expected to be announced as the organisation’s new boss later this week. NHS Improvement is being formed from Monitor and the NHS Trust Development Authority and will take over from them, regulating all trusts and FTs.

Jim Mackey

Jim Mackey’s radical care model reforms have brought him attention over the past year

Northumbria has received substantial attention over the past year as one of the leading new care model vanguard sites, proposing to create an accountable care organisation, and as one of the trusts looking at setting up a “multihospital chain”. It was HSJ’s Provider Trust of the Year in 2013.

The FT has started a subsidiary firm to support and run GP practices and has provided both community health and social care services in the area for several years.

Mr Mackey has been Northumbria chief executive since 2005 and before that held several chief executive, chief operating officer and finance director roles in the region.

Monitor and the TDA are expected to begin working under the NHS Improvement banner in April, although it is not yet known when Mr Mackey will start his role. The news of his appointment comes as the NHS provider sector faces huge financial problems, forecasting a net deficit of around £2bn for this financial year.

Jim Mackey’s radical care model reforms have brought him attention over the past year, but his background of delivery and financial nous will be just as pertinent to his task at NHS Improvement.

Northumbria Healthcare Foundation Trust is perhaps the most prominent of the national new care model vanguard sites, having both declared it will pioneer an NHS “accountable care organisation” and being designated to create one of the first multihospital chains.

These moves have brought Mr Mackey increasing attention, though he has notably avoided publicity personally, employing a style which will please those in government who do not want another big character on the national stage.

The vanguard work has also seen him work with NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens, who has championed the Northumbria projects.

Mr Mackey’s care model reforms are undoubtedly a sound basis for the role at NHS Improvement, one of whose key roles is to drive “changes to the structure and form of providers”.

They show he is a leader who, while from a solidly NHS background, can get the service to do radical things. No one else has so confidently deployed the American “ACO” label, which makes some people uneasy, nor had similar success bringing GP practices into FT ownership.

What may equally have clinched him the role though is his record of delivery and financial control. Mr Mackey’s recent list of successful projects, even setting aside the vanguards, is hard to compete with. This year he opened a new dedicated emergency hospital, which helped set the agenda for seven day acute care; last year Northumbria got approval for a groundbreaking private finance initiative buyout; in 2013 it won HSJ’s Provider Trust of The Year award for achievements in quality improvement and patient feedback.

Mr Mackey’s background is as a finance director, both of a trust and, on a secondment, at a health authority. He has been part of the group of senior leaders which saw the North East, arguably aided by circumstances, set the pace nationally on finance and performance.

Chief executive chosen for new provider sector regulator