It has been an extraordinary privilege to lead NHS Alliance alongside Michael Dixon. I had no plans to become a Chief Executive again but Michael is a difficult man to say no to, and the opportunity to work alongside him and the extended family of the NHS Alliance was impossible to resist. So as we hand over to aq new leadership team, I would like to offer a few quick reflections on how far we have come over the last 4 years. I came in at a difficult point when the Alliance was facing an uncertain future. So what did we do?

First, we successfully shifted the focus from clinical commissioning to primary care provision. The NHS Alliance has always enjoyed taking the moral high ground – and giving away our core membership to help create NHS Clinical Commissioners was the right thing to do but raised serious questions about the purpose and future of NHS Alliance. It was increasingly clear to us that how providers work together - including how general practice works at scale and works with the rest of the wider community - would be central to our future mission.

Second, to support this we needed to overhaul the way we worked. Today is a key milestone in this journey, but NHS alliance has already become increasingly virtual, without an office base. We also took steps to reduce our costs, establishing new partnerships and build on our strengths – bringing together leaders across primary care who are passionate about using their experience and expertise to make a difference, connecting what happens on the front line with policy making in Whitehall.

Third, we needed to be clear about who we were and what we believed in. We have published two major statements of our values and aspirations - our Manifesto for Primary Care 'Breaking Boundaries' and towards the end of last year, just before the FYFV, our own 'Think Big, Act Now: Creating Communities of Care.' and we continue to produce ground breaking work, including ‘Pharmacists & General Practice’ that has shaped the rapid growth of practice pharmacists, our work on tackling the current recruitment crisis by creating a new role for practice pharmacists, working with Pharmacy Voice on ‘We are Primary Care’, bridging the gap between health and housing including ‘Housing: Just what the doctor ordered’ and most recently our work 'Making Time in General Practice' leveraging significant changes from the secretary of State.

Finally, we have built and developed a new team to lead NHS Alliance, bringing together a new generation of leaders for primary care. We have welcomed not just bright new stars from general practice but leaders from across the breath of primary care and the wider community; from housing, fire and rescue, community development and the police. And today is the culmination of this process, making way for a new leadership team. T

his is also an opportunity to remind ourselves of what is so special about NHS Alliance. In the end, it is always the people, the connections and the relationships. We manage to achieve a lot together and I have no doubt that the future will be every bit as impressive in the hands of the new leadership team. Personally, I am looking forward to shifting back to being part of the team, as before, rather than leading it as we continue to make the case for health and well being across our communities.

Rick Stern

10th December 2015

Outgoing Chief Executive, NHS Alliance