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Blog: Alex Heritage explains why he thinks EvoNorth is vital to shaping the future of the Northern Powerhouse

We caught up with Alex Heritage, Chief Executive at the NHS Transformation Unit, ahead of next month’s two-day exclusive networking event EvoNorth. 

Alex, shares how his role as Chief Executive is transforming health, social care and well-being across the region, why he is attending EvoNorth and why he thinks attending EvoNorth is vital to shaping the future of the Northern Powerhouse. 

What does your role as Chief Executive at the NHS Transformation Unit involve?

As the Chief Executive of the NHS Transformation Unit I am responsible for leading the organisation to achieve our strategy and accountable to the Board. We are an NHS owned consultancy who work to support the NHS and care organisations in improving services for patients. We have been working for the past 15 years, mainly in the North West of England, to support clinicians and managers of hospitals to make significant changes. 

What are key issues are you addressing, and how will this drive forward the devolution agenda?

One thing that drives the work of the NHS Transformation Unit is how often healthcare can vary for patients. We don’t think it’s right that our ability to access services, the care we receive and our outcomes can so often be dependent on where we live. We were involved in negotiating the agreement between the NHS and HM Treasury to create a devolved health and social care system across Greater Manchester. This is a unique situation aiming at making significant changes for the whole Greater Manchester population. 

What does the Northern Powerhouse mean to you?

I’m a proud Northerner. I grew up in Greater Manchester, was educated here and have spent most of my public sector career working across the North. The main reason I was so excited to be involved in the devolution agenda was helping to bring decisions as close to patients and communities as possible. I remain enthused that the Northern Powerhouse has the ability to change services so they provide what local people need.

Why have you got involved with EvoNorth?

It’s really encouraging that we’ve got so many people who are committed to developing the North and events like EvoNorth give us an opportunity to share, understand and make connections. The NHS Transformation Unit is an example of how the NHS can innovate. We have created an internal consultancy that allows public money to stay within the public sector. 

Why do you think it’s important for leaders across the region to come together to create a plan for future generations, especially at events like EvoNorth?

My experience over the last 15 years is that when you find good people doing good things you’ll find a spark, connections and innovative ways of working together for the benefit of communities and patients. EvoNorth is a great opportunity to bring people together, share best practice and encourage new ways of thinking and approaching issues. 

Does EvoNorth come at a good time given the devolution and growth momentum across the region?

I think it’s coming at an interesting time. I don’t think anybody could have predicted the amount of time, resource and energy that Brexit would require. Whilst we can’t lose sight of domestic policy, we need to remember that every day hundreds of thousands of people across the region are using health and care services. If you’re that person, or if that’s one of your friends or a family member, that can be the most important thing that’s happening. Whilst we’ve all got lots of things going on we can’t lose sight of what is one of the most important things to most of us and that’s being well. As senior leaders we need to understand what’s going on around us whilst making sure that we are continuing in our efforts to improve health and care across the region.  

To be a part of EvoNorth click here to attendexhibit or sponsor. EvoNorth is a free event for all qualifying directors and senior managers from housing associations, LEPs and local authorities. To register clock here

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