NHS Plus has confirmed the appointment of Professor John Harrison as its next director.

Professor Harrison, a consultant in occupational medicine and clinical director of organisational health and wellbeing at Imperial College Healthcare Trust, will take over the role in January 2011 when Dr Kit Harling retires.

The incoming director, who is also professor (associate) of clinical organisational development at Brunel University Business School, is known for his work in the occupational health field.

NHS Plus, a network of NHS occupational health departments across England, said Professor Harrison’s expertise and track record made him the ideal candidate for the job.

Professor Harrison said: “I’m absolutely delighted to join the team at NHS Plus. A 21st century OH service must combine superb clinical expertise with business standards that match, if not exceed, those in the private sector.

“There is a wealth of expertise and enthusiasm within NHS OH teams and I look forward to working to support these often hidden gems.”

NHS Plus said the OH profession is facing great change, particularly in light of the recommendations made by the Black and Boorman report.

It added that while there are pressures to deal with, and risks involved, it expects to see Professor Harrison lead it through the change and into a new age of opportunity.

The outgoing Dr Harling said: “I am absolutely delighted. John’s long experience leading one of the country’s most innovative OH teams will be invaluable to network members as will his expertise in organisational change gained through his work with the Business School at Brunel University.”