• Clare Gerada and Chris Ham to co-chair new “NHS assembly”
  • Assembly will “support and challenge” NHS to ensure the long-term plan delivers

Two well-known healthcare figures have been hired as co-chairs of a new “NHS assembly”, whose role is to “advise the joint boards of NHS England and NHS Improvement on delivery of the NHS long-term plan”.

The co-chairs are Clare Gerada, the prominent GP and one of the earliest and most vociferous critics of the Lansley NHS reforms of 2010-13, and Sir Chris Ham, who stepped down as King’s Fund chief executive at the beginning of the year and was one of the first champions of developing integrated care over competition in the NHS.

Sir Chris said: “I’m delighted to be working with Clare Gerada in chairing the assembly which will have a key role in implementing the long-term plan. We will support and challenge national bodies, the NHS and its partners to ensure the plan delivers improvements in health and care.”

The appointments were announced at a joint board meeting of NHS England and NHS Improvement today.

Adverts for the roles said the assembly would “advise the joint boards of NHS England and NHS Improvement on delivery of the NHS long-term plan”.

The co-chairs will “be jointly responsible for providing leadership to the group, ensuring its effectiveness and promoting the work of the assembly within the NHS and externally among wider partners”, NHS England and NHS Improvement have said.

Dr Gerada was chair of the Royal College of GPs from 2010 to 2013, vociferously opposing the NHS reforms introduced under the coalition government, most of which have since been diluted and/or discredited. She is a partner in the Hurley Group GP provider, a shareholder in the Econsult digital GP service, and has developed and championed the NHS practitioner health programme. She is a member of the RCGP and British Medical Association councils.

Sir Chris became King’s Fund chief in 2010, and was director of the strategy unit in the Department of Health between 2000 and 2004 where he was involved in many of the New Labour government’s health reforms. For a long period in his policy work he has championed integrated care and joint working across the NHS.

The idea of the national NHS assembly or council was first floated by NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens in 2017 with the aim of helping “national bodies and frontline NHS leaders… better connect and align”. Last summer, NHS England indicated it would help draw up the NHS long-term plan, but it was decided the assembly could not be properly established in time to help with this.