• Regulators’ regional team say no conflict of interest concern
  • McKinsey senior partner is due to retire, but dates have not been given

NHS England and Improvement believe there will be no conflict of interest from a senior partner at McKinsey becoming chair of an integrated care system, they have told HSJ.

NHSE/I’s London regional team said Penny Dash — who was named on Thursday as the ICS chair for north west London — was planning to retire from the firm.

However, a spokeswoman for the regional team said it could not confirm when the head of European operations for the consulting firm was retiring, nor when she would start the NHS job.

Dr Dash has been a senior partner at McKinsey & Co for six years, and was previously head of strategy and planning at the Department of Health.

The regional office, run by Sir David Sloman, told HSJ in a statement: “During any overlap in roles [Dr Dash] would not serve the NHS in NW London or anywhere else in the NHS, and would not have any role in consideration of awarding any contract to McKinsey.”

The spokeswoman could not say what form any restriction on commercially-confidential information would take during any “overlap” in roles.

A senior partner at another consulting firm working in the health sector told HSJ the move was “astonishing”.

He said: “I honestly don’t see how I can bid to any organisation in that area without thinking, ‘Well, if McKinsey bid, I’m wasting my time’. She can exclude herself from the decision-making — but the people in her ICS will know that a McKinsey team will have her support throughout.

“That, if the project goes badly, she will help to right it and she will cover for it. That, if they appoint anyone else, they are on their own.

“There are a few strategy pieces coming up there but, if I were the officers leading on those, I would be talking to McKinsey now about them.”

A spokeswoman for NHSE/I’s London office said the appointment was in line with the NHSE/I Improvement Standards of Business Conduct policy which said: “Outside employment or private practice must neither conflict with nor be detrimental to the NHS work of the officer in question.”

Dr Dash was one of five chairs appointed to London’s sustainability and transformation partnerships/integrated care systems. However, a separately-published resignation letter of the clinical commissioning group leader in north west London suggests a decision on the appointment had been made in mid-December.

Mark Easton, chief officer of the region’s CCGs since June 2018, wrote: “The new chair of our Health and Care Partnership has now been appointed and will want to shape the ICS with the support of the chief officer and other senior colleagues.”