Paul Jennings, currently Chief Executive of NHS Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and leader of the Birmingham and Solihull Integrated Care System (ICS), is retiring from the NHS after more than 40 years of service.
A proud born and bred Brummie, Paul has played a vital role in the development of health services throughout his career, not only in Birmingham and Solihull but the wider Midlands region and beyond.
Starting out as a volunteer when he was a teenager, before securing his first NHS job as a holiday relief orderly for a psychiatric unit, his vast experience spans the breadth of the NHS and has led him to become the leader we recognise him as today.
Paul’s knowledge and dedication helped to establish the first successful merger of three clinical commissioning groups in the country, when Birmingham and Solihull CCG was formed, and he has long been a champion for reducing health inequalities, paving the way for work which continues across all health and care partners in the area to make the local NHS more accessible for all.
One of the most defining moments in Paul’s career comes more recently, when he was due to retire originally in 2020. Recognising the immense challenges the COVID-19 pandemic could bring, Paul decided to postpone his retirement, so he could support the NHS in Birmingham and Solihull to respond as effectively as possible.
His leadership has enabled a comprehensive, collaborative, system-wide effort, most recognisable in the incredible work going in to the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine. Paul has been at the forefront of the response, supporting staff and helping to achieve outcomes which would usually take months or years, in days.
Paul said: “It’s been a real privilege to work in what I believe is the cornerstone of moral values across this country, and one of its biggest triumphs: our NHS. But I have been especially honoured to work as the CCG’s Chief Executive for the last four years. I have met some wonderful people and have seen first-hand the commitment and passion our clinical and non-clinical staff alike have for providing the very best care for our patients and communities no matter what challenges might face us.
“I have been a Chief Officer for 23 years and have worked for the NHS for 43, and I look back on my career with immense gratitude. The great work taking place across Birmingham and Solihull, and that of the wider NHS, will continue and I will keep doing whatever I can to support it. I thank my colleagues for allowing me to work alongside them, especially over the last year, and for everything they have done and will continue to do. The next few months and years promise to be an exciting time for the NHS, especially in Birmingham and Solihull, and I’m looking forward to supporting the transition to the ICS until I leave in September.”
Dame Yve Buckland, Chair of the Birmingham and Solihull ICS, said: “There are few people working in health and social care in our region who do not know Paul Jennings. Many of us have been privileged to work with him over the years and know him to be a compassionate, driven and selfless leader. He has been unwavering in his commitment and dedication to reducing health inequalities and in making sure the services we deliver are the very best they can be for the people who need them. Nothing has highlighted this more than his leadership over the last year, as we have faced down what has been one of the most challenging times in the history of the NHS. I would like to personally thank him for all the contributions he has made during his long and successful career, and wish him a happy and well-deserved retirement.”
Dr Will Taylor, Clinical Chair of NHS Birmingham and Solihull CCG, said: “I am very proud to have worked alongside Paul and to have witnessed his passion and enthusiasm for the NHS, its people and its patients. He is an incredibly popular leader who can easily inspire and motivate colleagues, and he will be a great loss to the CCG, as well as the Birmingham and Solihull health and care system. He has led us through an unprecedented period, but as we begin to look ahead to the future, I am excited to be able to support colleagues to build on Paul’s work and honour the legacy he is leaving behind.”
Paul will be spending some of his retirement focusing on charitable work with Hospice UK and the Gold Standards Framework, and hopes to continue to work alongside the NHS in some capacity. He will also be spending more time with his family, listening to his vinyl collection and also hopes to find a hobby or two.
Planning for Paul’s departure is currently underway, along with plans for further partnership working across health and care partners in Birmingham and Solihull.