HSMC’s Jon Glasbywas delighted to chair the latest University Distinguished Leaders lecture. While the media and the public can sometimes look to the commercial sector for examples of good leadership, the University was delighted to welcome Una O’Brien, Permanent Secretary of the Department of Health since 2010. A career public servant, since joining the Department of Health in 1990 she has held a variety of roles in Government and in front-line healthcare organisations. Between 1998 and 2001, she was the Secretary to the Kennedy Inquiry into events at Bristol Royal Infirmary. In the 1980s, she helped establish London Lighthouse, a pioneering voluntary sector provider of services for people with HIV and AIDS. Una studied history at Oxford University and International Relations at the London School of Economics, and later also studied at Harvard where she was a Kennedy Scholar.
Una’s presentation focused on the role of the Permanent Secretary and of the civil service more generally in supporting Ministers and implementing policy, ranging from planning responses to Ebola and organising 20 million winter flu vaccinations to implementing the recommendations of the Francis Inquiry in Mid-Staffordshire and taking forward the 100,000 Genomes Project at the very forefront of science. Una also talked about ways in which current University students and alumni could seek careers in the civil service, including via the multiple award-winning NHS Management Training Scheme for details of HSMC’s 15 year continuous involvement in delivering the educational component of this prestigious scheme.
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