In response to growing membership across its eye and hearing care businesses FODO has announced a new company structure and the appointment of Harjit Sandhu as its first-ever Managing Director.

Harjit, who was previously Director of Policy and Strategy at the National Community Hearing Association (NCHA), will now run the four FODO businesses:  FODO, FODO Ireland, the NCHA and ophthalmology partnerships.

Harjit Sandhu said: “I am delighted to take on this key role with such a wide remit, especially at this important and challenging time for the eye and hearing health sectors.  We will continue to support sector growth and ensure that our members remain at the forefront of meeting the nation’s eye and hearing health needs by carving out new opportunities and tackling emerging risks head on.  FODO, the NCHA and FODO Ireland are all sector leaders and we are now ready to move to the next level.”

David Hewlett, current FODO CEO, will take up the new post of Director for Leadership, Transformation and Strategic Partnerships.  Ann Blackmore the current Director of Policy and Strategy at FODO is changing career direction and leaving the FODO Group to work as a consultant.

Commenting FODO UK Chair Lynda Oliver said:  “We are extraordinarily lucky to have Harjit re-joining the Optical Sector in this important leadership role at a vital time for eye care in the UK and Ireland.  There are few people with his combination of analytical, clinical and health economics skills, and he even has the advantage of having started out as an optometrist. ”

David Hewlett said:  “Harjit’s appointment is great news for the FODO businesses and for the wider eye health and hearing sectors.   From now on Harjit will run the FODO Group businesses and I will be moving from my current role as Chief Executive to focus on aspects of our work programme which it has not been possible to progress over the past few years as the FODO Group has expanded.

I would also like to pay tribute to Ann who has contributed so much over the past five years. Ann’s input on a wide range of issues demonstrates the value FODO membership brings to its members and the wider sector. We wish Ann well with her consultancy. I am certain she will be in great demand.”

Commenting on the plans, Peter Ormerod, Chair of NCHA and Garvan Mulligan, Chair of FODO Ireland both said their respective Boards unanimously backed the new Group structure.  Peter Ormerod said: “Harjit and David, both experts in health policy and strategy, have been crucial in providing support to and developing the hearing care sector. The new structure will make the NCHA even more agile at a time when more than ever the sector needs the NCHA’s support”. Garvin Mulligan added: “The optical sector in Ireland has gone through major changes in recent years and FODO has been instrumental in making sure government and regulators got those changes right. We are confident that this new structure will continue to serve us well”.



Notes to Editors

Harjit Sandhu started his career as an optometrist in 2003, working in primary and secondary care before moving on to work on international clinical trials as a lead certifier. He holds an MSc in Health Economics, Policy and Management from the London School of Economics.  He is an experienced health policy strategist, and as Director of Policy and Strategy helped establish the National Community Hearing Association as the leading voice for community audiology providers in the UK.  He is a member of the National Association of Primary Care (NAPC) Council, the Hearing Loss and Deafness Alliance and, although choosing to retire from the General Optical Council register in 2015, remains a member of the College of Optometrists.

David Hewlett joined FODO as Chief Executive in May 2005 from senior roles in the Department of Health and NHS (including as Director of NHS Commissioning, NHS Hospitals, GP Fundholding and Performance Management).  David is a LOCSU Board Director, a member of the Optical Confederation (OC) Leadership Group, has represented the OC for two terms on the Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning and Vision 2002 Ophthalmic Public Health Committee, and was the longstanding Vice-Chair of Action for Blind People and a trustee of the RNIB.  He is currently also a member the National Association of Primary Care (NAPC) Council, Hearing Loss and Deafness Alliance, Chair of the European Coalition for Vision and member of the North London Eye Heath Network. 

Ann Blackmore joined FODO from the Electoral Commission in 2014. She is a policy and communications expert who had previously worked in the Civil Service and the charity sector.  Ann was the secretary of the Optometric Fees Negotiating Committee until 2018, represented FODO and the eye health sector on a variety of working groups with NHS England and the Department for Health and Social Care, led legislation changes in the Republic of Ireland, and is secretary to the ECOO Economic and Public Affairs Committee, a member of the ECOO Executive, and a member of the Eurom1 steering committee. 

The FODO Group of Companies comprises: FODO, the National Community Hearing Association (NCHA) and FODO Ireland as well as a network of significant ophthalmology providers.  Its aims are to be the premier leadership and influencing body in the eye health and hearing sectors within the UK and Republic of Ireland and more widely to promote members’ interests for the benefit of patients and the public.