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NHS ALLAINCE Logo Dr Michael Dixon, a practising GP in Cullompton, Devon is to retire as chairman of NHS Alliance, a post he has held for 18 years, at the end of this year.

Dr Dixon said: “The NHS is transforming itself at an unprecedented pace and scale, and NHS Alliance has been doing the same. I believe the time for single-focus organisations representing discrete parts of the system has gone. It’s not about ‘hospitals’ or ‘primary care’ anymore, nor about siloed membership or representation. NHS Alliance has never shied away from disruptive innovation, but formal structures and fanfare conferences no longer feel relevant.

“Our vision for the next phase of NHS Alliance is as a virtual organisation with light-touch governance but firm direction, harnessing digital and social media, and based on crowd-sourcing principles of ‘followship’ rather than restrictive membership. We won’t lose our core values of immediacy and responsiveness, and our focus will remain on innovation, talent and representation; but our representation will be far broader, based on common purpose across the system to break boundaries and dissolve the tensions and untitledself-interest that get in the way of truly progressive healthcare. This will be a place, as it always has been, where great ideas can flourish with little constraint.

“The health service of the future should be nimble and flex to local needs, based on principles of collaboration and integration, and be relationship rather than process driven. Over the past three years, NHS Alliance has itself reflected this direction, attracting a constituency that extends far beyond our roots in general practice. We have reached out to housing organisations and associations, the fire and police services, and deep into the community itself, to understand better how to improve public health, and develop a health service that intertwines with, and is interdependent on, our everyday world. The populations we serve are themselves an engine for public health.

“18 years is as long as any chair should serve. When we first founded NHS Alliance, we agreed that every conversation should be about how we could improve patient and community care and health. We didn’t waste time discussing abstract ideas and that may be because we were all frontline clinicians, impatient and wanting to make a difference. I had assumed these attitudes were rife throughout the health service but have found that too many people are more concerned about protecting their own interests and the status quo. I believe that NHS Alliance is one of the few true champions of the NHS.

“That makes it loved and loathed, praised and condemned in equal measure, but as a result it has always played a key role in influencing the governments people have elected. As chair, it has been enjoyable, inspiring, and invigorating and I wouldn’t have missed a minute of it. Our most notable ambition – to see healthcare shaped by the clinicians delivering it at the frontline has been achieved. And now, as Vanguards and new models of care take shape, and we begin to see a vital new force for change and provision emerging, it is time to step aside and allow our own vanguard of passionate, innovative and talented leaders to shape and drive a new kind of organisation, a new NHS Alliance – a genuine alliance of people and organisations, passionate about making a positive difference – that reflects a new kind of healthcare.

”I leave it to them to share their vision publicly in early December, and while I will always be there as a touchstone when needed, it is time for a new force to meet the needs of ‘now’ and not what ‘was’.”

Rick Stern, chief executive, NHS Alliance said: “Michael has been an inspirational leader. Never afraid to challenge and disrupt in the interests of patients, doctors, nurses and the wider body of health professionals in primary care, he has left an extraordinary legacy. Many of us joined NHS Alliance because of Michael, drawing us in with his warmth and humour. He is brilliant at connecting with people and he knows how to use the practical concerns of front line practitioners to shape and influence policy at the highest levels. We will miss him greatly, but we are both proud to have attracted a new cohort of inspirational leaders, and now look forward to supporting their collective vision.”


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