Una O’Brien has been announced as the new permanent secretary at the DH.

Ms O’Brien will move up from her current position of director general of policy and strategy at the end of the month to replace Sir Hugh Taylor, who retired in July.

Educated at Oxford, Harvard and the London School of Economics, she first joined the Department of Health in 1990 and has worked in policy and strategy since 2005.

From 1998-2001 Ms O’Brien was secretary to the Kennedy inquiry into children’s heart surgery at the Bristol Royal Infirmary.

She also held the role of director of development and quality at University College London Foundation Trust from 2002-05. Ms O’Brien is a member of the NHS management and DH boards and was deputy director in the Prime Minister’s Efficiency Unit from 1996-98.

Other roles in Whitehall have included private secretary to the secretary of state for health and private secretary to the secretary of state for transport.

Cabinet secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell said: “She has considerable Whitehall and health service experience, which will be vital in helping the department deliver  on  the reforms for the health and social care system, and leading the department through the challenges ahead.”

Una O’Brien said: “I’m very proud to have been asked to lead a department with such a fine record and great people. Health is an issue that touches the lives of every person in this country, and I look forward to playing my part in guiding the department through the changes and challenges ahead.”