Amanda Pritchard has been confirmed as the next head of the NHS in England, replacing Simon Stevens from August 1.
Ms Pritchard is currently chief operating officer with NHS England. Fending off competitors for the top job including ex-Amazon UK boss Doug Gurr, she was viewed as the continuity candidate, having first joined the NHS as a graduate management trainee in 1997 and held a number of senior positions within the health service.
Ms Pritchard said: “I am honoured to lead the NHS, particularly as the first woman chief executive of an organisation whose staff are more than three quarters female.
“I have always been incredibly proud to work in the health service but never more so than over the last 18 months as nurses, doctors, therapists, paramedics, pharmacists, porters, cleaners and other staff have responded so magnificently to the Covid pandemic.
“There are big challenges ahead as NHS staff continue to deal with significant pressures while maintaining the roll-out of the hugely successful NHS vaccination programme and tackle backlogs that have inevitably built up in the face of rising Covid infections.
“However, the skill, determination and ‘can do’ spirit that NHS staff have shown in the face of the greatest challenge in the health service’s history means we face the future with confidence.”
Health secretary Sajid Javid thanked Simon Stevens for his “tenacity and dedication to the NHS” and congratulated Ms Pritchard on her appointment, saying: “I know she will support the NHS and its workforce of over a million people, and ensure the best possible care for our nation as we move forwards from this pandemic and for many years to come.”
RPS England chair Thorrun Govind welcomed the announcement, saying: “Pharmacists and pharmacy teams have given their all during COVID-19 and amid all these changes it’s vital staff get the support they need.
“A key challenge for the NHS will be implementing new Integrated Care Systems and this must include a focus on medicines optimisation across care settings.
“I’d urge NHS England to ensure a voice for pharmacy to help make these changes a success.
“Delivering integrated health and care services throughout England will also depend on investment in our workforce and a long-overdue upgrade to health and care records.
“I look forward to working with Amanda and the NHS leadership on how pharmacists’ clinical expertise can support the NHS recovery, improve medicines safety, and deliver high-quality patient care for the future.”