Anna Bradley, chair of the General Optical Council, is to chair HealthWatch England, it was confirmed today.
The Department of Health confirmed her appointment to the body to champion the rights of patients, which will launch later this year.
Ms Bradley has also been appointed to the board of the Care Quality Commission as a non-executive director.
HealthWatch England, a statutory committee of the CQC, is intended to represent the views of users of health and social care services and wider public.
The body will advise Monitor, the NHS Commissioning Board, health secretary and councils, as well as supporting a network of local HealthWatch organisations.
It is set to launch in October this year, followed by local HealthWatch branches in April 2013.
Ms Bradley said the body would “act as a champion for those who sometimes struggle to be heard”.
“I am clear that those who run, commission, and regulate services need to learn from the people who use those services,” she said.
She said her first task would be to “identify strategic priorities for action”.
Health secretary Andrew Lansley said Ms Bradley had a proven track record in promoting and defending the interests of consumers.
“This will be crucial to the work she will lead to establish HealthWatch England and ensure its success as the independent voice of patients, service users, carers and the public,” he said.
Ms Bradley is currently the Chair of the General Optical Council, which regulates opticians. She is also a trustee at the drug and alcohol charity Addaction and a non-executive director of Colchester Hospital University Foundation Trust but will step down from these roles.
She has been appointed for three years and will get £47,883 for working two to three days a week.