Ex-health secretary to lead transformation of Birmingham health and social care

Former health secretary Stephen Dorrell has been appointed to lead the delivery of a five-year blueprint for transforming health and social care in Birmingham and Solihull.

The city council said the move signals the start of a "radically new approach" that will see the Birmingham & Solihull System Board set the strategy for local government and the NHS to work together on improving health and wellbeing outcomes, driving the quality of care and improve financial efficiency - the so-called "triple aim" of NHS England's Five-Year Forward View.

The board will also focus on influencing the wider determinants of health and wellbeing. It will develop an "STP plus" approach for prevention that will connect reforms in health and social care to the wider devolution, economic and public service reforms being driven by the West Midlands Combined Authority.

Dorrell, the former MP for Loughborough and Charnwood who served as health secretary between 1995 and 1997, will act as independent chair alongside the "system leader" - Birmingham City Council chief executive Mark Rogers - who will have ultimate responsibility for the successful delivery of the programme.

"The key aspect of Stephen's role will be to enable and ensure a strong, sustainable and productive partnership ethos and practice across the local system so that the most challenging reforms ever required can be successfully implemented," Rogers said.

"It is well understood that we need to transform a broken health and social care system with some urgency and there is a consensus amongst the partners across Birmingham and Solihull that Stephen's experience, authority and connections will be a major asset as we set out to deliver a revolution in prevention, care, quality and the use of significantly constrained resources.

"Working hand-in-hand with Stephen, the new board and I will also ensure that these reforms become integrated with the move to greater devolution and complement the economic and public service reforms big driven by the combined authority."

Dorrell said he was "flattered and delighted" to take the role.

"I have known both Birmingham and Solihull all my life and throughout that time I have seen great changes in the expectations and quality of life of the people who live here. But despite undoubted progress, our social objectives have not always been met and the fruits of progress have not always been fairly shared," he added.

"Across both Birmingham and Solihull, we need to recognise and celebrate our successes, but we also need to understand why health inequalities still persist and what we can do about them. This is not simply a matter of public service efficiency, although that is certainly part of the story; more importantly, it is about reshaping public services to support successful and sustainable local communities."