The Department of Health has appointed Professor Matthew Cooke as the new national clinical director for urgent and emergency care.

Professor Cooke, who takes up his three-year appointment in January 2010, is professor of emergency medicine at the University of Warwick and consultant in emergency medicine at heart of England Foundation Trust in Birmingham.

As emergency medical adviser at the DH between 2000 and 2007, Professor Cooke has been instrumental in many of the reforms of the emergency care system. He has also advised many overseas emergency care systems on reducing waiting times and improving quality of care.  

Health minister Mike O’Brien said Professor Cooke’s “vast experience” in urgent and emergency care will make him a “real asset” to the department.

“This is a key leadership appointment which will shape and support clinical involvement in delivering urgent and emergency care in England,” he said.

Professor Cooke said: “I look forward to being able to work with colleagues in ambulance services, primary care, emergency departments and secondary care to further improve the quality and safety of emergency care delivered by the NHS.

“Working closely with service users and NHS staff will be key to re-energising the system to bring about emergency care improvements,” he added.

Professor Cooke will work two days a week for the Department of Health and will continue with his clinical role at Heart of England NHS Trust.