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Aviva makes senior management changes

David McMillan becomes director of group transformation, while Robin Spencer is made chief of general insurance for the UK and Ireland.

The British insurance services group Aviva has reshuffled its senior management, appointing David McMillan as director of group transformation, Robin Spencer as chief executive of general insurance for the UK and Ireland, John Lister as group chief capital and risk officer and Carole Jones as acting group HR director. All changes are effective immediately.

McMillan was formerly chief executive of UK & Ireland General Insurance. He will manage the implementation of the new strategic plan across the group and will report to John McFarlane.

Spencer will be responsible for leading the company’s general insurance business. He will remain a member of the group executive and report to John McFarlane and Trevor Matthews.

Lister will replace Spencer in a new expanded role as group chief capital and risk officer, combining both functions and eliminating duplication between them. He will join the group executive and report to John McFarlane for risk and Pat Regan for capital.

In her new role, Jones will join the group executive and report to Kirsty Cooper. She has 21 years of experience at Aviva, most recently as HR director, group functions and Aviva Investors. Jones will replace John Ainley, who has resigned from the company after serving for 12 years.

John McFarlane, chairman of Aviva, said:

The search for a new CEO internally and externally is in progress advised by Spencer Stuart. I would expect an appointment to be made at the beginning of the new year, or shortly thereafter.

In the meantime, it is essential that we have the right people in place to implement the strategic plan and to achieve higher financial strength and performance. I am aware of past concerns regarding the frequency of management changes at Aviva; nevertheless I judge these new appointments to be essential.

I wish to express special thanks to John Ainley for his significant contribution over his 12 years at Aviva, and wish him well for the future. Aviva now has a senior management team which I believe has the right mix of experience and insurance expertise to deliver Aviva’s strategic plan.

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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.