NHS Confederation appoints new chief executive

Niall Dickson

The former head of the General Medical Council, Niall Dickson, has been appointed the new chief executive of the NHS Confederation, the organisation has announced.

A long-serving senior figure in the health and social care sector, Niall has just completed seven years at the helm of the GMC, having previously been chief executive of health think tank The King’s Fund.

Announcing the appointment on Wednesday (11 January), the Confederation’s chair, Stephen Dorrell, said the ‘major coup’ will add enormous value to the organisation and its members.

“Niall will help ensure the NHS Confederation remains the first port-of-call when the health service needs a voice, binding in the highest levels of experience and influence across the full spectrum of health and care services,” Stephen Dorrell said. 

“He brings with him a diverse range of skills and experience including superb leadership, a strong record of innovation and delivery, and a raft of invaluable contacts and carefully nurtured relationships in key areas.”

Niall will take up the role on 1 February, taking over from the Confederation’s interim chief executive, Stephen Dalton.

‘A great privilege’

Speaking of his appointment, Niall said: “It’s a great privilege to join the Confederation as it works with its members and partners to deliver better, safer care and the fundamental reforms that are needed to make the system sustainable.

“The health and social care system is under massive strain facing unprecedented demand and severely constrained funding.

“These are monumental challenges and there has never been a more important time for its various parts to come together locally and nationally.”

Outgoing chief executive, Stephen Dalton, said: "I am delighted to be handing over the reins to Niall. This is an excellent appointment and I've no doubt that Niall will provide the leadership and wise contribution that's needed in these challenging times for the NHS. 

“During my time at the Confed, in different roles, it’s been a privilege to represent members and I want to thank colleagues on the frontline for their support. 

“It’s never been more important that we have a strong voice that represents the whole of the NHS and I know members will want to get alongside Niall."

Thanking Stephen Dalton for his leadership of the Confederation, Stephen Dorrell said the organisation had made enormous progress under his interim stewardship. 

“Stephen Dalton is a massively respected and admired colleague who receives the best of wishes from everyone at the Confederation.”

The profile: Niall Dickson 

  • During his time at the GMC from 2010 to 2016, Niall delivered a raft of reforms. These included an expansion of its responsibilities for medical education and training, the introduction of revalidation in 2012, the introduction of language checks for doctors from Europe in 2014, and the establishment of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service to provide a clear separation between the GMC’s investigation of complaints and the adjudication of hearings.
  • He worked as chief executive of the King's Fund from 2004 to 2009 before being appointed as chief executive and registrar of the General Medical Council in January 2010. Mr Dickson also took up the post of chair of the International Association of Medical Regulatory Authorities (IAMRA) in 2014, a term of office which lasted three years.
  • He was the editor of the Nursing Times from 1983 to 1988 before joining the BBC as health correspondent in 1988 and progressing to the position of social affairs editor for BBC News from 1995 to 2003, where he was responsible for around 80 journalists.

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