First joint HR director of primary care trust and borough council, Deb Clarke, highlights steep learning curve

The UK’s first HR director to be responsible for both the local council and primary care trust (PCT) has spoken of the “steep learning curve” in her new role.

Deb Clarke was appointed joint director of HR at Tower Hamlets Council and the borough’s PCT seven weeks ago.

The move – first reported by Personnel Today in September 2006 – is aimed at improving efficiency across the two organisations and developing service delivery for residents.

“The potential to set up a joined-up model of working meant this job was a fantastic opportunity,” Clarke told Personnel Today. “But it has been a very steep learning curve because of my lack of experience in the health sector.”

Clarke took the £100,000-plus role after several years as assistant chief executive at Stoke-on-Trent Council.

She is responsible for about 11,000 council workers and 1,300 PCT employees. Her time is split four days at the council’s HQ and one day at the PCT.

Elements of HR activity for both organisations will be integrated, but Clarke would not comment on the possibility of job losses in the separate HR teams.

“The teams may in part merge in the future, but only when there are benefits in joining them together,” Clarke said.

Over time, other functions such as finance and IT could also become joined-up in a similar way, she added.

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