Simon Stevens appointed new NHS England Chief Executive
Simon Stevens has been appointed to lead NHS England, when Sir David Nicholson resigns next April. The forty-seven year old is currently president of private US health firm, United Healthcare. He has previously worked as an NHS manager and has acted as a health advisor to Labour. His appointment as chief executive of NHS England comes at a time when there are growing demands for care.
Mr Stevens has worked in the US for the last three years. A former NHS graduate trainee, he worked in a number of management positions during the late 1980s and 1990s including Guy’s and St Thomas’s Hospital Trust in London and a mental health service in Northumberland. Mr Stevens was a former Labour councillor and became a government special advisor to Alan Milburn, in New Labour’s early years in 1997. He co-authored the 2000 NHS Plan, which was widely credited with reviving the NHS and increasing investment for the NHS. The NHS plan led to huge falls in waiting times for treatment, improved A&E performance outcomes and improved patient outcomes with cancer and heart disease.
He was a strong advocate for increasing the use of the private sector and worked directly with Tony Blair from 2001 and 2004. He then became lead of the European arm of United Healthcare, before becoming the senior executive in the US.
Mr Stevens was offered the same salary as Sir David at £211 000 per year, however, according to NHS England, he took a voluntary 10% pay cut to £189 900, to reflect the intense ‘NHS spending pressures’.
Christina McAnea, head of health at union Unison, told the Today programme on BBC Radio 4: “I am surprised that they haven’t been able to find someone within the NHS… and somewhat concerned that this is the Tory-Lib Dem government trying to install American medical values.”
However Sir Malcolm Grant, chairman of NHS England responded: ‘’ “We wanted the best in the world and we’ve got I think the best in the world. Of course we’ve got somebody who’s got experience both of the public health system in this country and of the best of American healthcare.
“The NHS has to be open to ideas from across the world. All nations are facing a crisis in the affordability of healthcare and the American experience is valuable to us.”
Mr Stevens said: “It will be a privilege to lead NHS England – at a time when the stakes have never been higher – because I believe in the NHS, and because I believe that a broad new partnership of patients, carers, staff and the public can together chart a successful future for our health service.”
NHS England chairman Prof Sir Malcolm Grant said: “I am delighted that Simon will be taking on this exceptionally challenging leadership role for the NHS”.