Ian started his career in the NHS as a Biomedical Scientist and later worked as a Research Scientist in coagulation disorders in Manchester, England before moving into general management in the late 1980s.
Ian has held a variety of NHS general management posts including Operating Theatre Manager at a large teaching hospital and Assistant Chief Executive to the former North West Regional Health Authority. More recently, Ian has spent 11 years as Chief Executive of acute hospital Trusts, and three years as the Chief Executive of a healthcare commissioning organisation prior to being appointed Chief Executive of the NHS in the West Midlands in 2009. In this role, as one of the 10 top leaders in the NHS, Ian also became a member of the national NHS Management Board.
In 2012, Ian was appointed Chief Executive of Health Education England (HEE). HEE has an annual budget of £5bn which it spends on the education, training and development of the current and future health and healthcare workforce in England including commissioning undergraduate and postgraduate education, workforce planning, and lifelong learning. HEEs role is to transform the delivery of healthcare by focussing on the workforce. Ian was one of the co-authors of the 2015 NHS Five Year Forward View which provides a strategic framework for continuing to improve the quality of care and efficiency of the NHS over the period to 2020. Alongside this, HEE has recently published its own 15 year vision for the needs of patients and how the workforce needs to change to meet these needs.
Ian has a particular interest in the development of leadership skills in clinical staff and is an Honorary Professor of Leadership in the Medical School at Lancaster University where, until 2009 he also chaired the Board of the Health Leadership Centre. Ian has also held honorary appointments at the Universities of Liverpool, Cape Town and Cumbria.
Ian is the current Chairman of the NHS Leadership Board for England which rotates amongst the Arm’s Length Body Chief Executives.
In 2003 Ian was awarded the OBE by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for services to the NHS. In 2010 Ian was made an honorary Fellow of the Royal College of General Practitioners. Ian also holds honorary degrees at Lancaster University (DSc), Birmingham City University (DUniv), Manchester Met University (DHealth), and the University of Wolverhampton (DSc).