In a rare case of an NHS senior manager being seconded to the private sector, the high-profile chief executive will work with the pharmaceutical company for six months, with responsibility for market and customer development, although she told HSJ that she would not be returning to her chief executive position.
'There are tremendous opportunities for new ways of working in the NHS to improve patient experiences and outcomes and enhance the commissioning process,' said Ms Milbank.
She said the NHS needed to learn from and work with the private sector on both the commissioning and provision of services.
Pfizer Health Solutions current head of business development Jo Wales will move the other way, to join NHS Direct on secondment as associate director of business development.
NHS Direct chief operating officer Dr Mike Sadler said: 'The partnership between NHS Direct and Pfizer will help deliver improved patient services combining as it does the skills and experience of both the private and public sectors.'