News Health tsars

Harry Cayton

BMJ 2004; 328 doi: (Published 15 January 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;328:127
  1. Katherine Burke

    Health tsars: spin or substance?: Eight health directors (“tsars”) were appointed from 1999 to 2002. Katherine Burke asked them to summarise their achievements and other people to assess their work. A ninth “tsar”, Dr Sue Roberts, was appointed in March 2003 to cover diabetes. The full text is accessible at

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    Harry Cayton

    Director of patients and the public

    Appointed: part time, May 2002; full time, April 2003

    My achievements: The NHS Plan drives the NHS towards a really patient centred service. My role is to advise ministers and colleagues in the Department of Health and the NHS on how that might be achieved. The formal patient and public involvement structures are a part of this, but the real issue is how we nationalise good practice.

    I aim to be an advocate and a catalyst for patient centred health. Since joining the Department of Health I have taken on two specific pieces of work. I have directed the national consultation on choice, responsiveness, and equity, published in December (13 December 2003, News Extra, And I am preparing, with a group of experts, proposals on reform of the charging structure for NHS dentistry.

    What have I achieved? It's far too soon to answer that, and anyway, others must judge. But I feel more welcome than I had expected in a world where patients have sometimes been serfs not tsars.

    What others say

    Judy Wilson, patient and former chief executive of the Long-term Medical Conditions Alliance: His first achievement, in just six months in post, has been to retain all that he brought from his extensive experience [in the patient and carer world] and to use it to underpin his work. His second achievement has been swiftly to gain the trust of professionals and managers. Nigel Crisp's invitation to him to lead the recent Patient Choice consultation demonstrates the confidence of the Department of Health. The professional and managerial world clearly respects him too.

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