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Independents' Day

Profile: Who is Simon Stevens?

Meet the man who is to become the most powerful person in the NHS next year.

Simon Stevens has already had a hand in the way GPs work today. He was a former special adviser to Prime Minister Tony Blair and an architect of the Government’s agenda for primary care through the ‘NHS Plan’ published in 2000.

After his stint at Number 10, he became a very influential man in US healthcare as executive vice president of UnitedHealth Group, the largest health provider there.

He told Pulse, when UnitedHealth was planning to make a major move running GP surgeries in the UK that practices had nothing to fear from private companies and that he supported the current GP contract.

He said: ‘The GP contract is, despite its detractors, a good contract structure and if we had more of those incentives across the board, better things would result.’ The company subsequently pulled out of providing primary care, instead focussing on providing commissioning support.

But he has been critical of GPs. He told Health Policy Insight in an interview in 2011 that CCGs needed to ‘get serious’ about improving the quality of primary care, but admitted this was a huge ask as GP committment was needed to ensure commissioning worked well.

He is also president of UnitedHealth’s Global Health division and chairman of the UnitedHealth Center for Health Reform. According to his official biography, his responsibilities include ‘leading UnitedHealth’s strategy for national health reform, ensuring its businesses are positioned for changes in the market and regulatory environment’.

He has twenty years leadership experience in healthcare policy and management and was educated at the University of Oxford. He was a visiting professor of health policy at the London School of Economics, and serves on the boards of a number of leading non-profit healthcare organisations in New York, Minnesota and London.

He currently lives in Minneapolis with his wife and two children.

Readers' comments (5)

  • There are some good noises coming from this men. However, dont we need to assume a conflict of interest - his company wants to run GP surgeries - now he is going to run the NHS?
    The trend in the last few years was to sell out the NHS to private providers.
    The NHS was so good since it provided healthcare with a lot of good will of the people working in it. If competition between providers is the main driving factor that will be destroyed and the main aim is not to give good health care but to make money. This is the wrong incentive for a health care system! Furthermore privatisation has proven over and over again to be more expensive in the long run - look at Rail, Energy, Water...

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  • UnitedHealth have consistently pushed up the price of healthcare. We know from all the data that the NHS, which has been traditionally based on public provision is one of the cheapest health services in the world with one the best health outcomes.
    To appoint someone from the private sector to this post looks like very bad news for tax payers.

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  • Is this man escaping a field of self-perceived failure - i.e.Obamacare?
    It would be interesting to know where he stood on it.

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  • We should welcome this globetrotting manager but watch him closely for any indirect /subtle moves into private medicine.

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  • Do you mean privately funded or privately provided?

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