In Grant we trust to defend the NHS (2 of 3)

November 10, 2011

"Running £730m UCL budget is a part-time job" is one-sided: it highlights the views of those opposed to the appointment of Malcolm Grant as chair of the NHS Commissioning Board, but does not reflect the positive views of the many - inside and outside UCL - who strongly support it.

Grant's appointment has the unanimous support of the UCL senior management team because we believe it will be good for the NHS, the university and the provision of healthcare in this country.

Under Grant's leadership, UCL has become a leading partner in the development of the Francis Crick Institute, which when constructed will be Europe's leading centre for medical research. It has also joined forces with leading NHS trusts, including Great Ormond Street, Moorfields and University College London Hospitals, to create the largest academic health science partnership in Europe, UCL Partners, which is already delivering innovative translational benefits for patients. And the UCL Medical School is playing a vital role in training the next generation of health professionals.

NHS reform is widely regarded to demand a close alliance between the NHS and academia. For Grant to draw upon the expertise he has developed here at UCL to shape this vital national role seems to us both logical and welcome, a move that can only serve to better integrate research and teaching into health policy and practice.

Nor are we alone in holding this view. For example, Universities UK has called the appointment "extremely good news for the NHS and UK higher education", while The Lancet has argued that "Andrew Lansley, too often on the wrong side of history, has made a wise and well-judged choice".

Steve Caddick, vice-provost (enterprise); Mike Ewing, vice-provost (education); Rex Knight, vice-provost (operations); David Price, vice-provost (research); Sir John Tooke, vice-provost (health); Michael Worton, vice-provost (international affairs) University College London

In Grant we trust to defend the NHSI fail to understand why in criticising Malcolm Grant's appointment, Allyson Pollock, professor of public health research and policy at Queen Mary, University of London, makes such play of the relative budgets of UCL and the NHS ("Running £730m UCL budget is a part-time job"). Is she implying that if chairing the NHS Commissioning Board with responsibilities for £90 billion is a 48-hour-a-week job, then acting as provost of UCL with its £730 million budget should take up only about 23 minutes a week?

Tony Harker, Oxford

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