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Chief Executive
Department of Health

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Sir David Nicholson

00:02 My name is David Nicholson. I’m the NHS Chief Executive and I work for the Department of Health.

00:08 I’m responsible for a hundred billion pounds worth of tax payers money. To make sure that I spent effectively for the benefit of patients and health in England.

00:21 I spent my whole career in the NHS. I’ve worked 32 years as an NHS manager, I’ve worked in Mental Health Services, Community Services. I’ve worked in big acute hospitals, I’ve run regions and subsequently I became, to work at the department of health.

00:37 My father always said that the, the aspiration his father was a labourer, so his aspiration for his son was that he should become a skilled man, so my dad was a plasterer and my father said to me that his aspiration was that I wouldn’t wear overalls, so I would work in an office. I went through school, I took my um, O Levels and A levels. I did science subjects all the way through, through school. A lot of people I went to school with left at, left at 16, they were earning. Um, it was pretty clear to me that I wasn’t gonna do that. I was still interested in what I was doing at school, I was still interested in, the, in, in the subjects, it was a good school they, they supported me they, they had expectations of me and I worked in a, a fruit shop on a Saturday and a pet shop on a Sunday. When I was at University I, I worked part time as a youth worker, um, and in the holidays of course I um, I would work in the building trade with my father.

01:36 I started at university to do bio-chemistry and physiology. I absolutely hated it. I, within a year I’d packed it in and I decided to do history and politics. I thought it was extraordinary because it was, I met a whole set of people I would never have met and I kind of, I became very conscious of the way I talked and the kind of, er, and the, and my outlook and my parents and all of that in a way I’d never, I’d never really thought of before. I mean I thought, I thought all these people were cleverer than me they were more articulate than me, they had more money than me and once I’d got over my, my natural sort of, er, hostility to anything new I kind of learnt to understand it and work with people and had a really, you know really good time.

02:21 I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, other than I wanted to get a job, a career, something that would guarantee income and genuinely on the same day I got two letters, one of them offering, offering me a job as a youth worker in Hillingdon, and the other one offering me a job as, on the general management training scheme and the interesting thing about it from the general management training scheme point of view was, they’d already rejected me. I, I am a very sort of persistent character in that, in that regard and I’d, I’d assumed they’d got it wrong. It was rather naïve actually when I think about it, but it was a sort of they’d got it wrong so they’ll get it right in the end so I put in again and I, I got on.

02:58 When they did the analysis on me at University and they were thinking about the kinds of careers I should do, it was a sort of, I had a social conscious but I liked bossing people about, which was a kind of pretty constant thing throughout my career actually. I got a job, being responsible for a learning disability hospital in Doncaster about 500 beds, but 500 people lived in these, in this hospital and um, they had communal toothbrushes in those days. They would be, they’d be pooled clothes um, er, people, there was a whole set of individuals who co, who were in wheelchairs. There was no wheelchair access to a whole set of, set of the site and very quickly you could see how changes that I made, things that I put into place could have a massive impact on the daily lives and experience of those people who lived in that learning disability hospital.

03:51 That was something really worth doing. It’s a fantastic privilege when you, you think about it, that you can make decisions that can help make such a massive difference to people and that’s when I thought, that was what I wanted to really spend the rest of my life doing.

 

Sir David Nicholson is the NHS Chief Executive for the Department of Health. He has worked for the NHS for over 32 years, as is now "responsible for a hundred billion pounds worth of tax payers money". Sir David really enjoys being able to make a difference in people's lives.

More information about Chief executives and senior officials

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Data powered by LMI For All
£108,160
average salary

The UK average salary is £28,758

38
average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

21%  female  79%  male 

The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

Future employment

Description

This unit group includes those who head large enterprises and organisations. They plan, direct and co-ordinate, with directors and managers, the resources necessary for the various functions and specialist activities of these enterprises and organisations. The chief executives of hospitals will be classified in this unit group. Senior officials in national government direct the operations of government departments. Senior officials in local government participate in the implementation of local government policies and ensure that legal, statutory and other provisions concerning the running of a local authority are observed. Senior officials of special interest organisations ensure that legal, statutory and other regulations concerning the running of trade associations, employers’ associations, learned societies, trades unions, charitable organisations and similar bodies are observed. Chief executives and senior officials also act as representatives of the organisations concerned for the purposes of high level consultation and negotiation.

Qualifications

Entry may be by appointment or internal promotion, as appropriate, and is usually based on relevant experience although candidates may also require academic qualifications for some posts.

Tasks

  • Analyses economic, social, legal and other data, and plans, formulates and directs at strategic level the operation of a company or organisation;
  • Consults with subordinates to formulate, implement and review company/organisation policy, authorises funding for policy implementation programmes and institutes reporting, auditing and control systems;
  • Prepares, or arranges for the preparation of, reports, budgets, forecasts or other information;
  • Plans and controls the allocation of resources and the selection of senior staff;
  • Evaluates government/local authority departmental activities, discusses problems with government/local authority officials and administrators and formulates departmental policy;
  • Negotiates and monitors contracted out services provided to the local authority by the private sector;
  • Studies and acts upon any legislation that may affect the local authority;
  • Stimulates public interest by providing publicity, giving lectures and interviews and organising appeals for a variety of causes;
  • Directs or undertakes the preparation, publication and dissemination of reports and other information of interest to members and other interested parties.
  • Analyses economic, social, legal and other data, and plans, formulates and directs at strategic level the operation of a company or organisation;
  • Consults with subordinates to formulate, implement and review company/organisation policy, authorises funding for policy implementation programmes and institutes reporting, auditing and control systems;
  • Prepares, or arranges for the preparation of, reports, budgets, forecasts or other information;
  • Plans and controls the allocation of resources and the selection of senior staff;
  • Evaluates government/local authority departmental activities, discusses problems with government/local authority officials and administrators and formulates departmental policy;
  • Negotiates and monitors contracted out services provided to the local authority by the private sector;
  • Studies and acts upon any legislation that may affect the local authority;
  • Stimulates public interest by providing publicity, giving lectures and interviews and organising appeals for a variety of causes;
  • Directs or undertakes the preparation, publication and dissemination of reports and other information of interest to members and other interested parties.
  • Analyses economic, social, legal and other data, and plans, formulates and directs at strategic level the operation of a company or organisation;
  • Consults with subordinates to formulate, implement and review company/organisation policy, authorises funding for policy implementation programmes and institutes reporting, auditing and control systems;
  • Prepares, or arranges for the preparation of, reports, budgets, forecasts or other information;
  • Plans and controls the allocation of resources and the selection of senior staff;
  • Evaluates government/local authority departmental activities, discusses problems with government/local authority officials and administrators and formulates departmental policy;
  • Negotiates and monitors contracted out services provided to the local authority by the private sector;
  • Studies and acts upon any legislation that may affect the local authority;
  • Stimulates public interest by providing publicity, giving lectures and interviews and organising appeals for a variety of causes;
  • Directs or undertakes the preparation, publication and dissemination of reports and other information of interest to members and other interested parties.
Employment by region
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Employment status