National Director of Improvement for NHS announced

NHS Improvement and NHS England have today announced who will lead on driving improvements in care and efficiency across the NHS.

Hugh McCaughey will take on the new role as National Director of Improvement in the new NHS Executive group. Hugh is currently Chief Executive of South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust in Northern Ireland.

In his new role, which he will take up on 1 April, Hugh will help ensure NHS providers and local systems are equipped to deliver world-class universal healthcare on a sustainable basis.

He will oversee the delivery of high impact support to the NHS to help reduce unwarranted clinical variation, improve quality and access, and ensure the most effective and efficient use of resources. 

Hugh has been the Chief Executive of South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust in Northern Ireland since 2009, where he has made quality improvement a key strategy. This has led to significant improvements in the trust’s performance across a wide range of clinical, workforce and cultural areas, as well as its financial effectiveness. The trust has also established a Quality Improvement Academy which has resulted in more than 4,000 staff being trained in quality improvement.  

He is a member of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and is a founding member of the Health Improvement Alliance Europe and the UK Improvement Alliance. He is Chair of the Ulster Rugby Academy and a former coach, player and manager.  

Hugh was previously Chief Operating Officer and Deputy Chief Executive of the Belfast Trust. He brings with him a wealth of experience and skills having joined the NHS in 1985 as a National Management Trainee.

'I am delighted that Hugh has been appointed to this new leadership role, which underscores the importance of quality improvement in driving better quality care for patients. 

'Hugh brings a huge amount of technical expertise in the application of improvement science in healthcare settings, and he also understands the challenges of leading change in complex and ever-changing environments. He will act as an effective national champion for improvement across the NHS. 

'Hugh 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. I would like to thank Jeremy Marlow who has led this work for the past three years.

'On a personal level, I have very much appreciated Jeremy’s commitment, values and his drive as one of the executive directors of NHS Improvement. He has been a great colleague and I wish him well in the next stage of his career.'

Ian Dalton, Chief Executive, NHS Improvement

Hugh will be working hand-in-hand with Professor Tim Briggs, as National Director of Clinical Improvement. Professor Briggs is currently our National Director of Clinical Quality and Efficiency and chair of the Getting It Right First Time programme, which is designed to improve the quality of care within the NHS by bringing efficiencies and improvements. 

This appointment follows a number of appointments to the NHS Executive group last month (December). 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.

The seven integrated regional teams will play a major leadership role in the geographies they manage, making decisions on how best to assure and support performance in their region, as well as supporting local system transformation.

Earlier this month we, along with NHS England, published the Long Term Plan for the NHS — setting out a shared agenda for the next five and ten years. The blueprint sets out how the NHS will ensure the country’s growing and ageing population can get the right care at the right time and in the right place. 

Part of Hugh’s role will be to take forward and build on our important work to improve NHS productivity, which has been led by our Executive Director of Operational Productivity Jeremy Marlow. This includes overseeing the Getting It Right First Time programme and the Model Hospital digital platform which help providers improve productivity by sharing best practice. Jeremy has built and overseen a complex and successful programme of work to support providers to become more efficient at a time when the NHS has achieved productivity levels that have outstripped the rest of the economy.

As our Accountable Emergency Officer, Jeremy Marlow has provided expert oversight through the NHS’s response to a number of emergency incidents. He will be helping oversee the smooth transition of the functions and programmes to the new roles before moving onto a new challenge later in the year.

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