• Hugh McCaughey announced as national director of improvement
  • Julian Hartley to lead team developing workforce implementation plan until end of March

Two NHS chief executives have taken up national director roles at NHS Improvement and NHS England, it has been announced.

Hugh McCaughey will take on the role of national director of improvement in the new NHS Executive Group from April, while Julian Hartley will lead the development of the new workforce implementation plan for the NHS.

Mr McCaughey, currently chief executive of the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust in Northern Ireland, will oversee the delivery of support to help the NHS “reduce clinical variation, improve quality and access and ensure the most effective and efficient use of resources,” the regulator said.

Mr McCaughey has been at his current trust since 2009 and was previously chief operating officer and deputy chief executive of the Belfast Trust.

Ian Dalton, chief executive of NHS Improvement, said Mr McCaughey has “a huge amount of technical expertise in the application of improvement science in healthcare settings”.

“He will be building on the successful productivity work that has been carried out by NHS Improvement with acute hospitals, mental health, community and ambulance trusts,” Mr Dalton said.

Mr McCaughey will be working closely with Tim Briggs as national director of clinical improvement. 

Mr Hartley, currently chief executive of Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust, will lead the workforce implementation team on a full time basis until the end of March 2019, when he will return to his trust.

Yvette Oade, Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust’s chief medical officer and deputy chief executive, will lead the trust in his absence.

The workforce implementation plan will involve experts working together on “the most important workforce challenges facing the NHS,” the regulator said.

These areas of focus include:

  • Future medical and dental workforce, chaired by Stephen Powis;
  • Future clinical workforce, chaired by Ruth May, with subgroups led by Suzanne Rastrick on allied health professionals, Keith Ridge on pharmacists and Sue Hill on healthcare scientists;
  • Making the NHS the best place to work, chaired by Navina Evans;
  • Leadership, development and talent management within the NHS, chaired by Peter Homa; and 
  • Technology skills and enablement, chaired by Sir David Behan.

Dido Harding, chair of NHS Improvement, said: “I am keen to ensure that we develop the workforce implementation plan as inclusively and openly as possible and I am thrilled that Julian, with his vast experience of leading and working in the NHS and of complex change management, will be working with me on it.”

These hirings follow a number of appointments to the NHS Executive group last year. Under the new structure, corporate teams will provide specialist support and expertise to seven regional teams, as well as taking a national lead on their areas.