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The pub operator Mitchells & Butlers appoints new CEO

Alistair Darby is named the new chief executive.

The British pubs, bars and restaurants operator Mitchells & Butlers has appointed Alistair Darby as its new chief executive, effective 8 October 2012. Darby is currently COO of Marston’s plc.

Since rejoining Marston’s in 1997, Darby has held a number of senior operational and strategic roles, including leadership of its branded and suburban managed pubs and its beer division. He was appointed COO in 2011.

Darby has more than 20 years of experience in the UK’s pub, drinks and consumer sectors.

Bob Ivell, executive chairman of Mitchells & Butlers, said:

The board and I are all delighted to announce the appointment of Alistair as chief executive following an extensive and rigorous search process. I am confident that we have secured the right person for the role and that drawing on his wealth of operational and brand experience, Alistair will contribute greatly to M&B’s continued strong performance.

Following a short period of induction and handover, Ivell will revert to the role of non-executive chairman.

Darby said:

Mitchells & Butlers is a market-leading business with tremendous potential that is well advanced on a transformation programme. I am excited by the opportunity to lead the company and, together with the management team, to build on M&B's strong estate, brands and operations.

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Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.