Sir Simon Stevens’ decades long career in healthcare

Taz Ali, PA
·2-min read

An NHS chief is to step down from his role this summer and is set to join the House of Lords as a peer.

Sir Simon Stevens, NHS England’s chief executive, is leaving the position “as planned” at the end of July after seven years.

Prior to taking on the role, Sir Simon spent a decade working in the US as president of the global health division of UnitedHealth Group, a private healthcare giant, and became chief executive of its Medicare business.

Birmingham-born Sir Simon first joined the NHS in 1988 after studying at Balliol College, Oxford University, starting his career at Shotley Bridge General Hospital, near Consett, County Durham, as a trainee manager.

He has worked as a frontline manager leading hospitals and health facilities across the country, including general manager for mental health services at North Tyneside and Northumberland and group manager of Guys and St Thomas’ hospitals in London.

From 1997, the married father-of-two was appointed policy adviser to two successive health secretaries at the Department of Health, and later served as Tony Blair’s health adviser at 10 Downing Street from 2001.

Sir Simon took on the role of chief executive of NHS England in April 2014, making him directly accountable to Parliament for the NHS’ £120 billion of annual funding, and offered to take a 10% pay cut in the first year due to “NHS spending pressures”.

During his time as head of England’s health service, he has clashed with the Government over funding, saying in 2017 that it was “stretching it” to say the NHS got more money than it asked for – in comments that contradicted those of then-prime minister Theresa May, who insisted the NHS got all it wanted.

The 54-year-old was knighted in the New Year Honours 2020 for services to health and the NHS.

More recently, people may recognise him as one of the key medical figures to appear on the Downing Street press briefings alongside Government ministers during the coronavirus pandemic.