By Louise Drewery on 22 June 2017

Former Health Secretary Alan Johnson is taking on the role of Independent Chair at a company which has transformed Hull’s health estate.

The former Health, Education and Home Secretary, who has recently stepped down as Hull West and Hessle MP, has turned down other national opportunities to take up the position at Citycare.

Part-owned by the NHS, the public private partnership was set up in 2004 and has since delivered 13 new health and wellbeing centres across Hull, alongside other major refurbishment projects and a wide range of other estates services generating over £250 million of economic impact for the city.

Since then, the company has also worked with public sector partners to rationalise and drive improvements across their existing facilities.

Now, Alan, will take over from current Independent Chair Charles Lewis as the business moves forward and said he is proud to take up the position.

He said: “I have turned down a lot of offers to sit on other boards, but Citycare, to me, is a direct link to what I have been doing without getting back into the political field.

“Some of the offers I received meant working in London, which I don’t want to do full time.

"The role of Independent Chair is very special. You need to bring balance to discussions between the stakeholders and, as an ambassador, also have a responsibility to society more widely."

Alan said the health and wellbeing centres have put Hull on the map.

“When I was an MP, I often said that one of the most unheralded revolutions in health around Hull was the transformation of the health estate,” he said.

“It revolutionised health and it was part of my ambition as Health Secretary to do something about health inequalities.

“It started in my constituency at the corner of Plane Street with Newington Health Care Centre and the new facilities are iconic buildings people are proud of. If you look at them now, they are in the same condition as when they were built.

“There is an opportunity to make better use of what these health centres were originally designed for and bring more services under one roof.

“The idea is to bring health care closer to the patient, rather than making trips back and forth to the acute services. The Hull Integrated Care Centre, which is one of our latest projects, is a fantastic example of this.

“I have also been impressed by the innovative solutions Citycare is creating to maximise space within public sector partners’ buildings, as well as the team’s ability to respond to the ever changing landscape in the NHS and across the public sector.

“It’s not always about new buildings but about working collaboratively across the public sector to solve property problems.”

Alan will also become Independent Chair of Shared Agenda, Citycare’s sister company, which was set up four years ago to take the same value for money approach to dealing with challenges in the public sector estate across Yorkshire and the North East.

He said there is an “enormous opportunity” following Sir Robert Naylor’s review of NHS property and estates and how to make best use of the buildings and land.

He added: “A third of the NHS estate existed before the NHS was created in 1948 and that has to be updated.

“It seems to me that we have something special in Hull and there’s no reason why that can’t be exported and be a model of best practice elsewhere.

“It’s about bringing lessons from Citycare to other areas of public service and there are some very exciting opportunities there that will take us further afield.”

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