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National Director of Improvement named

NHS Improvement and NHS England have announced Hugh McCaughey will lead on driving improvements in care and efficiency across the NHS in the new role as National Director of Improvement in the new NHS Executive Group. Hugh is currently Chief Executive of South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust in Northern Ireland.


In his new role, which he will take up on 1 April, Hugh will help ensure NHS providers and local systems are equipped to deliver world-class universal healthcare on a sustainable basis.


Hugh will work hand-in-hand with Professor Tim Briggs, as National Director of Clinical Improvement. Professor Briggs is currently National Director of Clinical Quality and Efficiency and Chair of the Getting It Right First Time programme, which is designed to improve the quality of care within the NHS by bringing efficiencies and improvements. 


Hugh will oversee the delivery of high impact support to the NHS to help reduce unwarranted clinical variation, improve quality and access, and ensure the most effective and efficient use of resources. 


He will also take forward and build on the important work to improve NHS productivity. This includes overseeing the Getting It Right First Time programme and the Model Hospital digital platform which help providers improve productivity by sharing best practice. 


Hugh has been the Chief Executive of South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust in Northern Ireland since 2009, where he has made quality improvement a key strategy. This has led to significant improvements in the Trust’s performance across a wide range of clinical, workforce and cultural areas, as well as its financial effectiveness. The Trust has also established a Quality Improvement Academy which has resulted in more than 4,000 staff being trained in quality improvement.  


He is a member of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and is a founding member of the Health Improvement Alliance Europe and the UK Improvement Alliance. He is Chair of the Ulster Rugby Academy and a former coach, player and manager.  


Hugh was previously Chief Operating Officer and Deputy Chief Executive of the Belfast Trust. He brings with him a wealth of experience and skills having joined the NHS in 1985 as a National Management Trainee.


Ian Dalton, Chief Executive of NHS Improvement, says: “I am delighted that Hugh has been appointed to this new leadership role, which underscores the importance of quality improvement in driving better quality care for patients. 


“Hugh brings a huge amount of technical expertise in the application of improvement science in healthcare settings, and he also understands the challenges of leading change in complex and ever-changing environments. He will act as an effective national champion for improvement across the NHS. 


“Hugh will be building on the successful productivity work that has been carried out by NHS Improvement with acute hospitals, mental health, community and ambulance trusts. I would like to thank Jeremy Marlow who has led this work for the past three years.”


Jeremy will help to oversee the smooth transition of the functions and programmes to the new roles before moving onto a new challenge later in the year.


This appointment follows a number of appointments to the NHS Executive group in December. The new structure is devised to enable corporate teams to provide specialist support and expertise to seven regional teams, as well as taking a national lead on their areas.


The seven integrated regional teams will play a major leadership role in the geographies they manage, making decisions on how best to assure and support performance in their region, as well as supporting local system transformation.