NHS England national commissioning operations director Dame Barbara Hakin is to retire by the end of the year.

Staff were due to be told of her decision today. An appointment is expected to be made to “a reshaped national director role” in coming months.

Dame Barbara has worked in the NHS for 41 years and been an NHS England national director since its formation in 2012. She oversees its regional and area teams, and her responsibilities have included operational performance and the development of clinical commissioning groups.


Dame Barbara Hakin has worked in the NHS for 41 years

She has held several national roles overseeing developments in commissioning and primary care, including the coalition government’s clinical commissioning reforms. She was chief executive of the East Midlands Strategic Health Authority, and of primary care trusts in Bradford.

Before entering full time management, Dame Barbara was a GP in Bradford for more than 20 years.

She told HSJ: “I’ve had an absolutely fantastic career in the NHS. It’s 46 years since I first went to medical school, and I’ve held a huge range of roles and worked with some absolutely fantastic people.

“No doubt I’ll miss it but there comes a time in life when other things become important.”

Dame Barbara, who turns 63 this year, is expected to leave by the end of the year.

An internal notice said: “[NHS England chief executive] Simon Stevens will be appointing a successor to Dame Barbara in a reshaped national director role, on a similar timetable to the appointment of a combined chief executive for Monitor and [the NHS Trust Development Authority]. The aim is to take the opportunity to ensure more aligned functions between the national NHS leadership bodies.

“NHS England also intends to recruit to several senior clinical and operational leadership posts to drive forward other elements of the NHS Five Year Forward View, including the Urgent and Emergency Care Review.

“Dame Barbara will remain in post while her successor is recruited, expected to be by the end of the year.”

Mr Stevens said: “Barbara’s immense personal contribution to the NHS has spanned four decades - as a clinician, manager and national leader. Colleagues who have worked with her down the years will greatly miss her distinctive blend of hard work, hands-on delivery, and commitment to improvement.”