The millionaire frontrunner to become NHS England’s new chairman today revealed he uses private healthcare.
Ex-banker Richard Meddings — who was in charge of TSB for four years — revealed he went private last year when NHS waits hit record levels.
The 63-year-old, who is No10’s favourite for the job, faced a grilling from MPs on the health select committee to assess his suitability for the role.
He revealed he first went to his NHS GP and was diagnosed late last year with deep vein thrombosis — a type of blood clot that usually develops in the leg. Mr Meddings was referred for scans on the health service — which can take three months — and ended up going private for treatment.
As NHSE’s chair, he will play a key part in Sajid Javid’s shake up of the organisation that is aiming to cut waiting times and clear record backlogs.
Mr Meddings claimed he still ‘absolutely’ trusted the health service but has had access to private healthcare since his mid-20s as one of the perks of his jobs in the city.
The Health Secretary is said to have earmarked the former Treasury board member for the role because of the ‘financial challenge’ he can bring to the health service.
Mr Javid was himself a successful banker for 18 years before coming into politics in 2009, working at Deutsche bank — where Mr Meddings was non executive director from 2015 to 2019.
But his potential appointment had already been met with controversy because he has no experience within healthcare and social care.
No10’s preferred candidate to become NHS England chair Richard Meddings, 63, today admitted he uses private healthcare when struck down by illness
NHS surgery waiting lists are at their highest ever level in England, breaching more than 6million for the first time since records began in November last year
Sajid Javid plans ‘academy school’ style NHS revolution
The Health Secretary is planning to set up academy style hospitals to tackle post-pandemic waiting lists.
Under the re-organisation, Sajid Javid will give more freedom to well-run hospitals that manage to treat patients quickly.
But he will come down hard on failing NHS trusts in an attempt to deal with the ‘huge’ variation in performance across the health service.
It would see poorly-run hospitals turned into ‘reform trusts’, The Times reports, similar to the Blairite reforms where schools rated as inadequate were taken over.
And leading NHS managers, or outside sponsors, could also be parachuted in to take charge of chains of hospitals.
The plans are still in their early stages, and are due to be set out in a white paper later this year.
But they raise the prospect of the NHS facing several reforms at once, sparking fears the tweaks could be ‘inconsistent’ with each other.
The shake-up comes on the tail of a new study that suggests employing more health managers or paying them higher salaries does not improve the quality of NHS hospitals.
As NHSE’s chair, Mr Meddings’s main duties will be to hold the organisation to account to deliver improvements in patients’ care, value for money and broader health reforms.
He comes with nearly 40 years of experience in the financial sector, which included leading TSB when it was hit by an IT meltdown that left almost two million people locked out of their accounts for weeks — a fiasco that saw it nicknamed the Truly Shambolic Bank.
He also currently chairs Teach First, a not-for-profit scheme which coordinates teacher training and aims to improve education standards in deprived areas.
During the questioning, Mr Meddings also admitted to having no professional experience in either the health or social care sector.
He revealed he did not yet have a plan for how to reduce health inequalities across regions.
And he admitted he does not know how he would have done things differently over the last two years during the Covid pandemic.
Asked whether he has used private healthcare, Mr Meddings said: ‘I have.
‘One of the aspects of the financial services industry is actually, probably from when I was in my mid-20s, I think part of my remuneration package has been the offer of private health.’
Mr Meddings said he was referred to the private sector for treatment after being diagnosed with unprovoked DVT ‘late last year’.
He went to his NHS GP and was referred to scans on the health service. Mr Meddings claimed he was then ‘referred privately’.
After being accused of not trusting the NHS, he insisted he has been a supporter of the NHS his whole life, citing his twin brother who works as a surgeon for the health service.
He said: ‘I don’t think that’s right, I absolutely trusted the NHS and I still do. I am a passionate believer in what it stands for and does.’
Mr Meddings said he last used the NHS for a blood test around Christmas last year, after his GP reached out to him.
And he said he had experience of the health service from when his mother and sister were ill.
NHS England’s current chair, Lord Prior of Brampton, a Conservative peer and former health minister who had previously chaired several NHS organisations, is to step down next year
Mr Meddings led TSB when it was hit by an IT meltdown that left almost 2million people locked out of their accounts for weeks – a fiasco that saw it nicknamed the Truly Shambolic Bank
More than 80,000 unvaccinated NHS workers face the sack
Tens of thousands of NHS staff who have not had the Covid vaccine face the sack in just a fortnight.
All frontline workers who have not received a jab will be called into formal meetings from February 4 and given a warning that they face dismissal.
NHS England guidance states notices will then be issued from that day, with March 31 marking the end of the notice period.
All frontline staff are required to have both doses of the Covid jab by April 1, meaning that by February 3 the first must have been given.
Managers have been advised they can move unvaccinated medics from the frontline into roles which do not involve direct patient contact. Bosses won’t have to help staff find ‘suitable alternative employment’ and redundancy payments will not be made to those who are dismissed.
More than 80,000 staff, which accounts for 6 per cent of the NHS’s entire workforce, remain unvaccinated. The Government’s own estimates last year suggested that the move could lead to 73,000 workers leaving the health service.
But he was forced to go back to his ‘early teens’ to give another example of a time he used the NHS, after having his teeth knocked out after ‘failing to duck for a cricket ball’.
He said: ‘[I] was actually in the health service for about 11 operations, two of which were in the private sector, eight or nine were in the health service.
‘And the last of those was a cosmetic delivery to me in the private sector.
‘So, I used the health service, I am a passionate believer I the health service and for what it stands for.’
Labour MP Barbara Keeley said: ‘Apart from when you want to be referred to the private sector.’
NHS England’s current chair, Lord Prior of Brampton, a Conservative peer and former health minister, is to step down next year.
Ministers want his successor to drive through reforms, oversee spending and to improve the NHS’s use of digital technology.
NHS England has a £150billion annual budget and employs 1.2million staff, and the chairman’s role pays £63,000-a-year for three days a week.
Mr Meddings was chair of TSB until earlier this year and was also a non-executive director of the Treasury and is a current non-executive director of Credit Suisse.
The chartered accountant was previously the finance chief at the Standard Chartered bank during the financial crash and served on the board of Deutsche Bank when it paid more than £5billion to settle US allegations of mis-selling mortgages.
He became chairman of TSB just months before a botched computer upgrade in 2018 that left millions without access to their accounts and 1,300 losing money through fraud attacks.
Mr Meddings apologised to customers for the debacle, which left TSB with a £370million bill for customer compensation and expenses. He was also hauled before MPs to face questions.
His experience of handling crises then saw him appointed to the board of Credit Suisse shortly after the Swiss banking giant was accused of spying on some of its top executives.
MPs on the committee are currently coming to a decision on whether they will will recommend him for the NHS England job.
Their report will be considered by Mr Javid before any appointment is formally agreed.
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