NHS England to appoint first female chief executive
Amanda Pritchard is set to become the first female chief executive of the NHS in England, BBC News has been told.
Ms Pritchard, NHS England’s chief operating officer, has been chosen to step up to replace Sir Simon Stevens.
The prime minister has to approve the decision before it can be formally announced. This is expected imminently.
Ms Pritchard was previously head of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, in London, and an adviser in Tony Blair’s Labour government.
She started in the NHS as a management trainee, in the late 1990s, before holding senior posts at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.
From 2005 to 2006, she worked in the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit and spent nearly four years as Guy’s and St Thomas’ chief executive before becoming NHS England’s chief operating officer in the summer of 2019.
In her current role she has worked closely with Sir Simon, effectively acting as his deputy.
Ms Pritchard’s impending appointment comes at a crucial time for the NHS.
Not only does she have the coronavirus pandemic to deal with, but the government has launched a major overhaul of the NHS, which will see the creation of integrated organisations to bring hospitals and community services closer together.
She will also be responsible for navigating what many believe will be one of the NHS’s toughest winters.
Coronavirus cases may be declining but the return of flu and other winter viruses on top of Covid is expected to stretch hospitals to their limit during the next six months.
Then there is the backlog in other treatments to tackle.
The waiting list for non-emergency care, such as knee and hip operations, now exceeds five million, the highest on record.
And this is expected to grow significantly because there are thought to be millions of patients who have not yet even been referred on for care.