Obituary of Liz Wolstenholme

My wife, Liz Wolstenholme, who has died of cancer aged 78, combined family life with a career in health and social care, mainly in Yorkshire.

Liz’s achievements stemmed from the fact that she was a calm, steadfast and inspiring leader who worked behind the scenes to unite disparate factions of the organizations in which she worked. She placed cooperation above competition and always sided with the underdog.

The second daughter of Eric Flint, a teacher, and his wife, Doris (née Stone), a nurse, Liz was born in Borrowash, Derbyshire, but soon afterwards the family moved to West Hartlepool in County Durham, where she grew up. She spent her teenage years in North London, where she attended Downer grammar school in Harrow. She and I met in 1963 at Nottingham University, where Liz graduated in economics, and we married in 1966. We had three children, Matthew, Tom and Susie. She had a special bond with our daughter-in-law, Lis, Tom’s wife.

Over the years, Liz worked for Bradford Social Services as a Research Officer, for the Yorkshire Regional Health Authority as a Community Care Manager and for Bradford Family Health Services as Chief Executive, and was a senior civil servant in the Department of Health in Leeds and London , where she led policy for the elderly and people with disabilities. While in that role she also produced the national framework for the ongoing health care delivery of the NHS.

Its main mission, long before integrated care existed, was to ensure that health and social care could work better together. In the 1990s she led a national support force that toured England on behalf of the NHS to encourage just that.

Liz was appointed CBE in 1998 for her contributions to health. In retirement she was chair of the Bradford Primary Care Trust and national chair of trustees of Parkinson’s UK, the first chair to have the condition herself after being diagnosed 28 years ago.

At home she was a conservationist who, long before we understood carbon footprints, loved shopping at car boot markets and charity shops.

She is survived by me, our children and three grandchildren, Molly, Sophie and Zahara, and her sister, Jess.