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Alasdair Liddell

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 18 January 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f359
  1. Alan Langlands, chief executive, Higher Education Funding Council for England
  1. a.langlands{at}

Former NHS manager who never lost sight of the bigger picture of health gain for all

Alasdair Liddell, CBE, who died suddenly from a cerebral aneurysm at age 63, was nobody’s typical civil servant. But then he was not remotely a typical NHS manager either.

Entering the NHS in the 1970s, by way of Fettes College, Edinburgh, and Balliol College, Oxford, graduating with a degree in jurisprudence in 1970, he rose to the rank of general manager of the East Anglian Regional Health Authority before becoming director of planning at the NHS Executive from 1994 to 2000.

At the executive he shaped the transition from 18 years of Conservative government to a new Labour administration. He ensured that the NHS survived the so called millennium bug, and he developed NHS Direct. The first information and IT strategy, Information for Health, was also his creation.1 This strategy advocated a bottom up approach to secure the active involvement of clinicians, patients, and the wider public in the use of information to improve care. The strategy was an opportunity squandered by his successors that would …

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