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NCB Chair faces student vote on future as UCL Provost

20 January 2012

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The Chair of the National Commissioning Board (NCB) is facing a backlash from UCL students angered by the university’s association with the government’s “controversial privitisation” plans for the NHS.

A University College London (UCL) union-run referendum on whether Grant should stay in his post as its Provost began yesterday (19 January) and will run until Thursday 26 January. 

Students rallying for a ‘no confidence’ vote to be found in Malcolm Grant are squarely against the government’s health reforms – claiming “doctors will be forced to be more concerned with the commissioning group’s purse” and “patient care will be compromised”.

“Neither running UCL nor being an accountable Chair of the NCB are part time commitments,” they write.

“Malcolm Grant has to choose and should not be associating our university with these controversial reforms.”

A meeting held before Christmas indicates Grant has failed to win the backing of his students.

Around 65% of the 250 students that attended the union-led debate in December 2011 on Grant’s role as Provost of the university, issued a vote of ‘no confidence’.

It is hoped a student vote of ‘no confidence’ would lead to a staff referendum on the matter, as it is only they who hold the power to oust Grant from his position at the university. 

James Skuse, the UCL Union’s Democracy and Communications Officer, confirmed to GPB that Grant declined an invitation to attend the meeting.

In an email, sent to all students last year and seen by GPB, Grant acknowledged the students’ rising concern over his accepting of the role with the NCB.

“I am aware of concern – some purely party political and some genuine – about my undertaking the additional responsibility [of NCB Chair] while continuing to head UCL,” he wrote.

“It is not a course I would have contemplated were it not for [UCL’s senior management team’s] belief this was not only a public duty which I should perform, but also that it would be of mutual benefit to the NHS and UCL.”

Apart from the email, Skuse said Grant has not sought to ramp up his presence among students or tried by any other means to alleviate student concern.

The Department of Health chose not to comment on Grant’s unpopularity among UCL students when requested by GPB, claiming it to be “a university matter”.