The Department of Health has appointed David Edmonds CBE as chair of NHS Direct, his appointment comes in advance of the establishment of NHS Direct as a special health authority in April 2004.

Announcing the appointment, for an initial period of four years, health minister Rosie Winterton, said: “I am delighted with the appointment of Mr Edmonds. He has a wealth of experience in the public and private sector and will bring valuable knowledge and skills to this important role.”

Edmonds previous experience of leading senior management teams in commercial and public sector organisations includes director general of telecommunications at Oftel, the UK telecoms regulatory agency. He was previously managing director of group central services at NatWest, and chief executive of the Housing Corporation.

Edmonds said: "I am delighted to have been invited to lead the NHS Direct Special Health Authority. NHS Direct is already a successful service with the ability to develop dramatically in providing high quality health advice, guidance and information. I look forward to helping build a new organisation to allow NHS Direct to reach its fullest potential, which is quite simply to be the best service of its kind in the world."

Launched in 1998, NHS Direct – the 24-hour, nurse-led health advice service – now deals with half a million calls a month.  In conjunction with its web-based partner NHS Direct Online it is claimed to be the largest and most successful e-healthcare information provider in the world.

A strategy paper on the next three years’ development of NHS Direct: is available on the Department of Health website at