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Professor John Howarth

Professor of Primary Care West Lakes Campus, CEO North Cumbia Primary Care
School of Medicine

Prof John Howarth is a senior clinician with over 36 years experience. Between 2018 and 2020 he established North Cumbria Primary Care a new not for profit GP provider covering 11 practices and 103,000 population. He is currently it’s chief executive and medical director.

Prior to that he worked at board level for the local NHS foundation trust for 9 years being deputy CEO for the last four. The trust initially covered community services and MH later merging with the acute trust peaking at £450m turnover with 8000 staff.
He led the first wave response for the trust to Covid 19 acting as strategic commander.

John was a GP in Cockermouth for over 20 years. He current works 2 days a week clinically in Whitehaven and is Professor of Primary Care with UCLAN.

He has had a varied career including clinical director for community services, medical director of Cumbria’s GP Out of Hours cooperative, chairing the primary care research group, a GP trainer for over 10 years and medical adviser to the local hospice at home charity.

During the 1990s John worked in 13 different conflicts and natural disasters becoming medical director and head of operations of an international disaster relief charity. He led the health response to the floods in Cockermouth in 2009.

He was a runner up in the national NHS Leadership Awards in 2010 (open to 1.3 million employees with over 1000 nominations), received a Fellowship in Public Health through distinction in 2011 and an MBE for services to primary care and the wider NHS in 2020.


  • Clinical lead for CLIC (Cumbria Learning and Improvement Collaborative). Based on Qulturum from Jonkoping and Virginia Mason it provides learning across all health and care organisations in Cumbria. I had the original idea for this and developed the successful business case. Over 16,000 attendees on our courses so far.

  • Deputy CEO local trust and ‘system clinical lead’ in our integrated care system (national exemplar site).

  • GP Principal Cockermouth 1987-91 and 1997 - 2014

  • Clinical Director Adults NHS Cumbria (lead clinician in PCT provider arm, £55 million, 2300 staff) and Elderly Care Lead Commissioning x 4 years 2007-11

  • GP trainer, West Cumbria Vocational Training Scheme for General Practice x 10 years.

  • Medical Director GP Co-operative x 7 years

  • Designed, set up and taught comprehensive training programme in Out of Hours Care which has run for >10 years

  • Chair of primary care research network in late1990s

  • 1991 – 1997 Worked in 13 different wars initially for Medecins Sans Frontieres then became Medical Director and Head of Operations for Merlin (Medical Emergency Relief International). I designed, implemented and evaluated major relief programmes e.g. maternal and child health programmes in 4 Taliban controlled provinces of Afghanistan including Kandahar and Helmand, Lassa fever control programme in Sierra Leone, major programmes in Rwanda, Goma, Mozambique, Angola, West Bank, Sri Lanka, Yemen, Chechnya, introducing WHO based TB programmes in into the Russian Federation (starting in Siberian prisons) etc. 


MBE 2020 for services to primary care and the wider NHS.

Runner up: National NHS leadership awards 2010 (over 1000 applicants and open to1.3m staff)

2010 National Association of Primary Care award ‘Best Integrated Care’ Cockermouth Integrated care Team Judges comments ‘World Class NHS’

2011 and 2012 National Association of primary care award ‘Best Care Closer to Home’

2010 – Won 6 other national awards for the community services that I led

Regional and national speaker - I have presented at over 100 regional and national events e.g. 6 presentations for the King’s fund

Successful bids and proposal writing

I have written dozens of bids generating many £millions over the years.

Selected Books/Reports:

  • "Palliative Care for the Primary Health Care Team" Palmer and Howarth 2006 Quay Books.
  • Co-author "Guideline to epidemics - Malaria." Benson/Howarth Medecins Sans Frontieres 1994. This is the malaria guide used by all sections of MSF in over 40 countries worldwide. One of a series of practical field guidelines to epidemic management.
  • Chapter on Refugees, Disaster Relief and Migration, Churchill Livingstone, Textbook of Travel Medicine 2000. Howarth J
  • The polio and diphtheria situation in Chechnya 1995. Howarth, J Merlin 1996.
  • Kandahar 1995 - the health situation in South West Afghanistan during the first year of the Taleban occupation. Howarth, J. Merlin 1996.
  • Wrote a series of guidelines: e.g. Proposal writing in emergency humanitarian relief, Report writing and Guide to Needs Assessment in conflict zones Merlin 1996

Selected Papers:

  • Use of cluster analysis to guide the humanitarian.aid effort in Grozny Chechnya 1995 Disasters 2000. Drysdale, Howarth J.
  • Primary Care in Disaster and Refugee settings. Howarth J, RCGP International Newsletter. 1997
  • Health Care in disaster and refugee settings, Howarth J, Banatvala N, Healing T, The Lancet 1997. 349 (suppl 111) 14 - 17.
  • A minimum data set for emergencies, Africa health. Howarth, J. 1996.
  • Mortality and Morbidity Amongst Rwandan Refugees Repatriated From Zaire, November 1996. Pre-Hospital and Disaster Medicine Banatvala N., Rogers A, Denny A, and Howarth J.
  • 1988 MRCGP with distinction. (Membership of the Royal College of General Practitioners)
  • 1992 DTM&H (Diploma of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene) Liverpool
  • 2010 FFPH through distinction Fellowship Faculty of Public Health
  • MBE 2020
  • Runner up: National NHS leadership awards 2010
  • 2010 National Association of Primary Care award ‘Best Integrated Care’ Cockermouth Integrated care Team Judges comments ‘World Class NHS’
  • 2011 and 2012 National Association of primary care award ‘Best Care Closer to Home’
  • Primary Care
  • Remote and rural health
  • Population health