Trust governors appoint new Chairman to lead East Kent Hospitals

Niall Dickson

Published 18 February 2021

Niall Dickson CBE has been appointed as Chairman of East Kent Hospitals, one of the country’s largest acute trusts.

Niall is well known for his work in healthcare at a national level. He was the Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation until October last year, and was previously Chief Executive and Registrar of the General Medical Council and Chief Executive of the health thinktank, The King’s Fund.

Niall, who takes up his post on 5 April, said: “I am looking forward to joining the Trust and working with its wonderful staff who give to their communities every day and have given so much during the pandemic.

“The Trust has many excellent services but we know there are also significant challenges. From what I have seen at this early stage, we are on a journey and the signs are that we are definitely heading in the right direction. There is a real commitment to bring changes that are driven by and empower front-line clinical staff and with a focus on making the biggest difference to patients.

“Everyone at the Trust is determined to build on the advances of recent years and deliver the highest standards of clinical care. Both the Trust Board and the Council of Governors will be working with the senior team and all our staff to bring this about. I am excited to have this opportunity to be part of the Trust and its future.”

Lead governor Alex Lister said: “On behalf of the Council of Governors I’m delighted to welcome Niall to the position of Trust Chair.

"Following a thorough search and robust recruitment process, we have no doubt that Niall will prove a formidable leader, and contribute greatly to the journey East Kent Hospitals will be taking over the next few years.

“Niall has extensive experience as a leader in healthcare, and as lead governor I’m particularly looking forward to working with Niall as he chairs the Council of Governors.”

Susan Acott, Chief Executive, added: “I am delighted that Niall, who lives in Kent, is joining the Trust. His experience, background and commitment to improvement will be invaluable.”

A Scot educated at Edinburgh University, Niall worked for Age Concern England and then moved into journalism. He was editor of Nursing Times in the 1980s and later became a familiar face and voice on BBC television and radio news, where he worked for 16 years culminating as Social Affairs Editor.

He has held international roles, serving as Chair of the International Association of Medical Regulatory Authorities and on the governing council of the International Hospitals Federation.

He is an honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of General Practitioners and the Queens Nursing Institute. He was awarded a CBE in the birthday honours for services to patent safety.

Professor Stephen Smith, who has been the Trust’s chair since 1 March 2018, announced in October last year that he was planning to step down following his three-year term, after being invited to expand his involvement in a major international health transformation programme in the Middle East.

From 1 March 2021, vice-chair Jane Ollis will act up into the chair role until Niall takes up his post on 5 April.