The local NHS took a step towards its expected future this week with the appointment of Professor Mike Thorne CBE as the chair designate of the structure likely to oversee it.
The Health Bill currently going through Parliament will create a statutory Integrated Care Board (ICB) for mid and south Essex if it becomes law. It has recently passed its Second Reading in the House of Commons, showing its enactment is likely, so the NHS has an obligation to prepare.
Appointing a chair designate of the ICB sets the tone for the local health and care system, which the Health Secretary last week confirmed would continue to cover the nine city, district and unitary local authority areas of mid and south Essex.
Prof Thorne was appointed to the role after a robust recruitment and assessment process led by NHS England and NHS Improvement.
Anthony McKeever, executive lead for the Mid and South Essex Health and Care Partnership, said: “It was good news for all of us in the local NHS and the area we serve that Prof Mike Thorne was confirmed as our chair designate this week.
“Mike already chairs the health and care partnership, so I have worked with him for some time already and know his enthusiasm for improving our residents’ health outcomes is matched by his expertise and insight.”
Prof Thorne said: “I’m delighted that I have the opportunity to continue supporting the NHS in its plans to work more collaboratively across mid and south Essex. This closer cooperation, which we expect to be formalised by a new Health Act, will help deliver more joined-up care to our residents in the most appropriate way.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has been a huge challenge for our health and care system. As we move forward, I’m proud of all the NHS, local authority, care home and voluntary workers I have the privilege of continuing to work with as chair designate.”
Prof Thorne is a former Vice-Chancellor at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), has a PhD in mathematics and is also a respected orchestral conductor, experienced bassoonist and Honorary Doctor of Music. He championed research at ARU during his tenure as Vice Chancellor, becoming a CBE for services to education in 2016.
He remains the chair of the Mid and South Essex Health and Care Partnership and will start in the new role of ICB chair from April 2022 if Parliament confirms current plans.