NHS in England set to appoint first female chief executive

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Amanda Pritchard is expected to become the new head of the NHS in England.

Ms Pritchard has worked as chief operating officer under outgoing boss Sir Simon Stevens, who finishes his tenure at the end of the week.

It has been reported that Ms Pritchard will be announced as his successor imminently.

She will take over in the midst of a third wave of Covid-19 and as the NHS faces an unprecedented backlog of care, with more than five million on the waiting list.

Ms Pritchard has held a number of key roles across the health service, including running the busy London trust Guy’s and St Thomas’ and as chief executive of NHS Improvement.

The Duchess of Cornwall (left) alongside Amanda Pritchard (Aaron Chown/PA)
The Duchess of Cornwall (left) alongside Amanda Pritchard (Aaron Chown/PA)

As chief operating officer of NHS England she was in charge of the operational performance of the health service as well as implementation of service transformation and improvements in patient care.

She joined the NHS through the graduate management training scheme in 1997.

Ms Pritchard has also served as a health team leader in the Cabinet Office’s delivery unit.

The role of chief executive in the NHS in England was first created in 1985 and it is the first time that a woman has been given the title.

Ms Pritchard will be in charge of the NHS’s annual budget of almost £150 billion and the service’s 1.2 million staff.

Tory peer Dido Harding was also understood to have applied for the job, as was KPMG’s Mark Britnell.

NHS England announced in April that current NHS chief executive Sir Simon was to stand down “as planned” at the end of July.

According to the NHS England annual report for 2019/20, the chief executive salary was between £195,000 and £200,000.

The report stated that Sir Simon had, during that year, voluntarily taken a £20,000 per annum pay cut for the sixth year in a row.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid would not be drawn on the name of the new chief executive on a visit to a vaccine clinic in Little Venice, north London.

He said: “Simon Stevens will be leaving at the end of this week, he has done a fantastic job we want to wish him all the best and certainly by the time he goes we will have announced who the new CEO is.”

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