Three new director generals have been appointed by the Department of Health, covering public health, external relations and group operations and assurance.

Felicity Harvey, currently director of the Cabinet Office’s implementation unit, will become director general for public health. She will lead the DH’s public health teams and will work closely with Public Health England, the NHS Commissioning Board and local government.

Dr Harvey was previously DH director of medicines between 2002 and 2009.

Charlie Massey, currently director for ageing society and state pensions at the Department of Work and Pensions, will take up the post of director general for external relations.

Meanwhile Karen Wheeler, currently director of the DH’s transition programme, will become director general for group operations and assurance.

Ms Wheeler will be responsible for DH human resources, corporate services and managing the overall performance and capability of arm’s length bodies.

The DH said it was expected the appointees would take up their posts shortly.

The three roles are part of the new departmental structure of five director generals, reduced from 12.

Two director generals are already in place – Richard Douglas, director general for finance, policy and strategy and David Behan, director general of social care, local government and care partnerships.

The three new director generals will report to DH permanent secretary Una O’Brien.