Simon Bolton has been named interim chief executive of NHS Digital, taking over from Sarah Wilkinson who will step down in the summer.
Bolton is currently chief information officer (CIO) for NHS Test and Trace and has previously served as the CIO of Jaguar Land Rover. NHS Digital said Bolton will bring deep and varied IT delivery, operations, and leadership experience to his new role, which he is due to take up on 4 June.
“It is a privilege to join this organisation at such an important stage. The appetite for digitisation within the NHS presents a huge opportunity for all of us working in the health tech sector and my ambition is for NHS Digital to be at the forefront, driving innovation and developing solutions and new capabilities,” Bolton said.
“What NHS Digital has achieved during the pandemic has been remarkable and I look forward to working alongside my new colleagues to continue to deliver for patients and the frontline.”
Laura Wade-Gery, chair of the NHS Digital Board, added: “Simon will provide strong leadership for the organisation to maintain this momentum and build on what has been achieved over the last year, supporting and driving forward the wider NHS agenda of simultaneous restoration and transformation of services with digital at its heart.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Sarah for her commitment, her dedication, and her outstanding leadership over the last four years.”
In March Wilkinson announced she was stepping down as chief executive of NHS Digital after four years in the role. She said it had been a “privilege” to work for an “extraordinary” organisation.
“It has been the privilege of my career to serve as chief executive of NHS Digital. It is an extraordinary organisation, with extraordinary people. For many years now we have made a substantial contribution to the health and care system,” she said.
“In 2020, as we responded so brilliantly to the pandemic, it is a source of pride and deep satisfaction to me that we were able to contribute so positively to the work of the NHS at such an unprecedented and nationally critical time.
“I believe there is a unique opportunity ahead for the digitisation of the system. As we emerge from the pandemic, the NHS has an appetite and a need for digitisation that is radically greater than it was in the period beforehand.”
When it announced Wilkinson’s resignation, NHS Digital confirmed it was seeking an interim chief executive and that Wilkinson would work closely with them to ensure continuity of strong leadership for NHS Digital’s operational and delivery priorities.
There had been reports NHS Digital had struggled to get approval for his salary from the Treasury, which was trying to reign in spending seen in Test and Trace.
The NHS Digital Board will run an open competition to recruit for the role on a permanent basis later in the year.