Randall up for NHS post

October 26, 2001

Former quality boss John Randall this week emerged as a contender for chief executive of the government's University of the National Health Service.

Mr Randall, who resigned as chief executive of the Quality Assurance Agency in August, joins Bob Fryer, director of the University of Southampton New College and a board member of the University for Industry, as a candidate for the job.

Mr Randall and Mr Fryer have declined to comment. The closing date for applications was last Friday and the post is expected to be filled in November.

Mr Randall left the QAA in protest at proposals to cut the volume of teaching quality assessment at subject level.

Prior to joining the QAA, Mr Randall was director of professional standards and development at the Law Society, with responsibility for all regulatory matters, including education and training. He served for five years as a member of the National Council for Vocational Qualifications.

Mr Fryer ended a period of secondment to the UfI last year, during which he moved from the role of director of distributed learning to director of policy and external relations.

He headed the National Advisory Group for Lifelong Learning that advised on the government's Learning Age green paper of February 1998 and he was principal of the Northern College.

The government's reorganisation of health authorities - which involves a significant reduction in their number - has fuelled speculation that some health authority heads are also interested in the job.

The successful candidate will have their work cut out for them. The University of the NHS has come under fire from Universities UK and other academic bodies for the use of the university title and the lack of consultation so far.

There is also speculation about how the head of the NHS University would work with the newly appointed head of education and training at the Department of Health, Maggie Pearson.

Another concern is how the University of the NHS will fit into the DoH's lifelong-learning strategy, due to be published soon.

No announcement of monies has been made but the reorganisation of the levies for funding the clinical aspects of doctors', dentists', nurses' and other health professions' training leaves open the possibility of a major reorganisation of the funding stream.

Health minister John Hutton caused confusion last week when he referred to the NHS University as part of the NHS plan in response to a parliamentary question. In fact, proposals for the NHS University were first seen in the Labour Party manifesto and were not in the plan, the government's blueprint for the NHS, which was published in July 2000.

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