Amanda Pritchard has been confirmed as the new chief executive of NHS England and is the first female to hold the role since the health service was established in 1948.
Pritchard, who is currently the organisation’s chief operating officer, replaces Simon Stevens, who leaves his post as chief executive at the end of July.
NHS England confirmed the news on Twitter this afternoon and said Pritchard will take up her role on Sunday, August 1.
Pritchard, who is a former chief executive of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, took on the role of NHS England’s chief operating officer in July 2019.
During her time at the organisation, she has worked closely with Stevens, overseeing operational performance and delivery, and the implementation of the NHS Long Term Plan.
Pritchard said she was “honoured” to be taking on the job, adding: “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.”
Simon Eccles, NHSX chief clinical information officer, took to Twitter to congratulate Pritchard on her appointment, saying she’s “incisive, kind and inspiring”.
Pritchard, who has worked for the NHS for 25 years, was selected from a field of strong candidates including Mark Britnell, a partner at KPMG, and Tim Riordan, chief executive of Leeds City Council.
Conservative peer and former boss of Test and Trace Baroness Dido Harding announced her intention to run for the position when she stepped down as chair of NHS Improvement in June. She was discounted from the race earlier this month.
As part of her role as NHS England’s new chief executive Pritchard will be expected to “drive digital transformation” across the entire health service.
Job specifications released in May revealed the successful candidate would take on four key responsibilities, with the need for wider digital transformation forming a more prominent part of the role.
Applicants were required to have a proven record of “leading a large complex organisation through transformational change, employing digital technologies and innovation”.
Other key responsibilities included leading the NHS; leading NHS England and Improvement; and representing the NHS with stakeholders including parliament, the media and regulators.
She will also be expected to embed integration through “more effective data sharing” to enable the digital transformation of care pathways.
The British Medical Association welcomed Pritchard’s appointment and her “valuable experience” working in the NHS.
“Ms Pritchard couldn’t be taking up her role at a more pivotal time for the health service in England; we are far from recovering from the pandemic and at the same time we have millions of people wating to receive treatment – the biggest backlog of care the NHS has ever seen. All against a backdrop of decades of underfunding,” Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA chair of council, said.
They called for her immediate priority to be address the workforce crisis, capacity issues and staff wellbeing.
Former chief executive Simon Stevens announced in April this year he would be standing down from the role at the end of July.