FOR anyone used to dealing with the leadership of the region’s public bodies on a daily basis, it will not come as a shock to read that a study by academics at Northumbria and Durham universities has concluded that they are largely run by middle-aged and middle-class people, and therefore not representative of the wider population.

There are some positives – since the last analysis in 2000, the number of female MPs in the region has risen from four to 14 (48 per cent compared to the national average of 32 per cent).

However it is clear there is a long way to go in many organisations to increase the representation of black, Asian and minority ethnic people, as well as those from different economic backgrounds.

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One of the most revealing parts of the Who Runs the North East Now?study focuses on the NHS, which it says “remains confusing, complex and fragmented”.

It continues: “It is evident that big decisions about our health services are being taken by small groups of unelected people who are not at all representative of the population – despite formal commitments to diversity. Moreover, in practice they are largely appointed by each other.”

While the study does say progress has been made in ensuring appointments to the boards of local NHS organisations are “fair and based on merit” it adds that “accountability is still quite limited”. At a time when a major reorganisation of health services across the region is being drawn up, this makes truly worrying reading, and will only reinforce the concerns raised by several campaigners about decisions being made by officials with no mandate from the public.