BGS welcomes new National Clinical Director

03 April 2024

The British Geriatrics Society is delighted that Dr Tom Downes has been appointed as the next National Clinical Director for Older People and Integrated Personalised Care. Dr Downes is an experienced geriatrician and has led clinical and system innovations in Sheffield that have improved health outcomes for older people and achieved substantial efficiencies. He has been BGS Vice President for Clinical Quality since February 2022 and while we are sad to lose him from this role, we are thrilled that his expertise will benefit older people’s healthcare at a national level.

There are real problems facing the NHS including long waits in emergency departments, record waiting lists for elective care and thousands of people stuck in hospital because they cannot get the care they need at home. As the biggest user group of the NHS and social care services, older people are bearing the brunt of these pressures. There are however reasons to be optimistic. There has been significant progress in recent years to bring care closer to home with services such as urgent community response and virtual wards helping older people to stay out of hospital. Integrated Care Systems have the power to improve services for older people with frailty and multimorbidity and, with strong leadership from NHS England, we are confident that progress will be made in this area. The Chief Medical Officer’s latest report on the ageing population shone a much-needed light on this age group and the recently published Proactive Care Framework shows how older people can be supported to remain well in the community. The NHS Long Term Workforce Plan provides an overarching vision for addressing some of the workforce pressures.

Now is not the time to lose momentum in older people’s healthcare and we are confident that Dr Downes is the right person to address the challenges and embrace the opportunities. He has a proven track record as a systems leader, and he is ideally placed to continue to make progress towards the ambitions set out in the Ageing Well Programme in the NHS Long Term Plan. He understands that if you get services right for older people, they will work better for everyone. We trust that as Dr Downes takes on this role, he will be supported with sufficient clinical expertise within NHS England.

We also want to pay tribute to the outgoing National Clinical Director, Dr Adrian Hayter. Dr Hayter provided leadership in older people’s healthcare throughout the pandemic and has promoted inclusive working with the BGS and other stakeholders to strengthen community-based services for older people. We thank Dr Hayter for his work in this role and look forward to continuing to collaborate with him in his new role at the Royal College of GPs.

Professor Adam Gordon, President of the BGS, said:

We are delighted that NHS England has appointed Dr Tom Downes as the new National Clinical Director for Older People and Integrated Personalised Care. We know that he will bring expertise and wide experience to the vital task of developing and delivering NHSE’s strategy for older people’s healthcare.  At this time of great pressure within the NHS, it is essential to have a clinical leadership focus on the largest group using health and care services, namely older people. The BGS congratulates Dr Downes and we look forward to working with him in his NCD role. We also thank Dr Adrian Hayter for his service to older people’s healthcare over the past four years and wish him well for the future.”