Mike Farrar, the former CEO of the NHS Confederation, has been appointed chair of physical activity industry body ukactive. Farrar, who led the NHS Confederation – the membership organisation that brings together the whole healthcare system in England, Wales and Northern Ireland – from 2011 to 2013, will take over from outgoing ukactive chair, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, in August.
In total, Farrar spent 13 years across the NHS and remains a prominent thought leader and advisor to the NHS and the wider healthcare sector.
As well as his experience in health, he has held a number of roles across phyiscal activity and sport – including stints as vice and interim chair of Sport England (between 2009 to 2012), chair of Swim England (from 2015 to 2020), chair of the Rugby League Players Welfare Forum and a trustee of the Football League Trust.
Farrar’s appointment comes at a time when the physical activity sector looks to become more integrated with the national health agenda. In recent years, ukactive’s work has increasingly focused on highlighting how its members – which range from public and private leisure facility operators to activity providers, training companies, equipment suppliers and NGBs – help reduce health inequalities and act as preventative healthcare providers.
In 2005, Farrar was awarded the CBE for services to the NHS and is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of General Practitioners, the Royal College of Physicians, and of the University of Central Lancashire.
Farrar said: “I’m honoured to be named the new chair of ukactive and cannot wait to get started in delivering on the ambitious plans I have seen to grow the sector’s impact and reach. There is huge synergy and opportunity here to develop our plans for supporting improvement in the nation’s health.
“Tanni has left a clear legacy as chair and I am particularly passionate about continuing the work she has driven to create a more inclusive and representative sport and physical activity sector.
“Equity of access to healthcare has been a key issue for me throughout my NHS career and I want to ensure that diversity and inclusion runs through every layer of our sector, our organisation and our governance at ukactive.
“ukactive’s members have an essential role to play, alongside the NHS, in the future of our population’s health and wellbeing. They are an integral element in our healthcare system and I will be committed to realising that vision.”
Outgoing chair, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, added: “It is time for ukactive to begin a new chapter in its mission and I know Mike will be a great chair, supported by a brilliant board and team, bringing new expertise and energy as our sector prepares to take the next step in its evolution.
“While it is very emotional for me to pass on the baton, you can rest assured I will continue to support and champion ukactive, its members and our incredible sector for many years to come.”