SCIE chair appointment, with update

16 March 2017

Update 16 March 2017: The appointment of Alison O’Sullivan as SCIE chair is no longer proceeding. Lord Bichard will continue in the role of chair until a new chair is appointed. A new recruitment process will begin shortly.

Original press release, 07 March 2017: Alison O’Sullivan, a former President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services and former director of children’s, adults and social services at Kirklees and Bradford, has been appointed as the new chair of the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE).

Following a competitive recruitment process, qualified social worker Mrs O’Sullivan was appointed to replace current chair, Michael Bichard, when he steps down on 31 March 2017.

Speaking about the appointment, chair of the selection panel and SCIE Board member David Archibald says:

Alison is the perfect match for SCIE. She combines excellent partnership and leadership skills, with in-depth knowledge of the care sector and a genuine commitment to co-producing solutions with people who use services. She has worked across both adults’ and children’s sectors, as well as integrated health and care systems through her work with clinical commissioning groups and health and wellbeing boards. We are particularly delighted that she brings such a great track-record of working within the children’s and young people’s sector, which is an area that we are developing.

Mrs O’Sullivan, who takes up the role from 1 April 2017, responded to her appointment saying:

I know how valuable SCIE’s work is in supporting improvement and co-production with local citizens. So I am delighted to have the opportunity to work with SCIE trustees and staff as we continue to develop the agency’s role – particularly in relation to children in care, and the integration of health and care. Lord Michael Bichard is a hard act to follow and he has left SCIE in a strong position as the care sector’s leading improvement agency. I look forward to building on his legacy – supporting and challenging colleagues across the system to deliver more effective care and support; by making a real difference to the experiences and quality of care that people receive to improve their lives.

SCIE chief executive, Tony Hunter welcomed the appointment saying:

Alison has a well-earned reputation as being a strong, clearly-focused and astute leader, who works collaboratively but is equally ready to take difficult decisions and see them through. We are already working with Alison as co-chair of the steering group of our major project on improving mental health support for children in care. We are undertaking this on behalf of the Department of Health and Department for Education. With her appointment as our chair we are all looking forward to working with her more closely.

Mrs O’Sullivan has 38 years’ experience of working in both adults’ and children’s services at strategic and operational levels. As President of ADCS, she increased the profile and impact of the Association – making a major contribution to the policy debate around care leavers and children’s mental health which led to greater government support on the issue. She now co-chairs the expert group for the Department of Health project to improve mental health and emotional wellbeing support for children and young people in care system. The project, which is led by SCIE, is placing the voice of care-experienced young people at the centre of activity.


Mrs O’Sullivan will be available for interview regarding her new role as SCIE chair when she takes up the position from 1 April 2017. Requests for interviews or photographs should be sent to Steve Palmer at or telephone 020 7766 7419 or mobile 07739 458 192.

Alison O’Sullivan’s career

  • President, Association of Directors of Children’s Services - 2015/16
  • Vice-President, Association of Directors of Children’s Services - 2014/15
  • Director for Children and Young People, Kirklees Council 2006 - 2016
  • Director for Adult Services, Kirklees Council 2012-2015 (concurrent with Director for Children and Young People role)
  • Director of Social Services, Bradford Council 2002–2006
  • Assistant Director Bradford Health Authority and Local Authority - 2000 - 2002
  • Assistant Director Adult Services, Bradford Council - 1999 - 2000
  • Assistant Director Disability and Community Health Services, Bradford Council - 1997 - 1999
  • Area manager services for children and families, Bradford Council - 1992 - 1997
  • Frontline social worker and team leader, Bradford Council - 1978 - 1992

As a director at Bradford and then Kirklees local authorities, Alison worked on a range of major partnership projects. She has acted as chair of the Local Safeguarding Children Board and the chair of the ADCS Board as well as Board membership of Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs). Alison carried responsibility for commissioning a variety of services over many years and recently led the development of joint commissioning arrangements with two Clinical Commissioning Groups in Kirklees. She also led the establishment of the Health and Well-being Board for Kirklees.

Press Contact

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