The head of communications at the Department of Health is to become NHS Direct chief executive.

DoH director general of communications Matt Tee told HSJ it was 'a big challenge and a big job'.

He said he wanted NHS Direct to carry out more contract work with individual trusts, particularly out-of-hours services.

'In moving towards foundation trust status, we need to look at how we can become more independent by securing revenue from outside the DoH. We should become the first point of call for out-of-hours services,' he said

The organisation needs to become more focused on patients and customers, as well as develop more self-care services for patients with long-term conditions, he added.

Before the Department of Health, Mr Tee worked as business development director at health information specialists Dr Foster..

He replaces Ed Lester, who leaves the organisation in May. A start date has yet to be arranged.