By Charlotte Green – Local Democracy Reporter
OLDHAM’S first female chief executive is to leave her post after more than 12 years at the local authority.
Dr Carolyn Wilkins OBE is stepping down as chief executive at Oldham council after joining the senior leadership team in 2009 and being appointed to the top role in 2014.
Since 2018 Dr Wilkins has also served as the accountable officer of NHS Oldham clinical commissioning group (CCG).
Her exit follows a change of political leadership in Oldham, after former leader Sean Fielding lost his seat in the May local elections and was replaced by Councillor Arooj Shah.
Dr Wilkins has recently concluded an 11-month secondment to the Department of Health and Social Care, working to focus national and regional support to councils across the country as they tackle Covid-19.
She said: “As for so many people, the last 18 months have been among the most challenging of my career to date.
“But the way that people have come together to do what was needed has been truly brilliant to see.
“It’s been a real privilege to be part of team Oldham and to work with so many amazing people dedicated to doing their best for our borough.
“Being able to play my part for local government as a whole has also been hugely rewarding. I feel now is the right time for change and I wish all in team Oldham the very best.”
As well as leading the council and CCG in Oldham, Dr Wilkins also held the lead chief executive role at Greater Manchester level on issues including the Safer and Stronger Communities portfolio, and the Greater Manchester Population Health Board. She was appointed to the NHS Assembly in March 2019.
Chiefs say that while working in Oldham she developed the organisation’s co-operative approach, and delivered key regeneration projects including the refurbishment of the Old Town Hall.
Dr Wilkins was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2016 for her services to local government and public service reform.
Council leader Arooj Shah said: “I would like to place on record my thanks to Carolyn for all she has achieved in Oldham throughout her 12 years here.
“More recently she has steered us through our response to the pandemic and leaves a huge legacy to follow. I wish her well for all she does in the future.”
Majid Hussain, chair of NHS Oldham CCG said: “I and on behalf of colleagues at the CCG want to express thanks to Carolyn for her leadership of NHS Oldham CCG and her wider leadership across the health and care system.
“As a leader she has contributed to and helped progress a number of areas including the development of the team Oldham approach and the integration of services which will no doubt deliver better outcomes for the communities of Oldham.
“I wish her every success in her future endeavours.”
The council says that a recruitment process to replace Dr Wilkins will follow in due course.