The personnel director of supermarket giant Tesco has been appointed as the new human resources director for the NHS.

The personnel director of supermarket giant Tesco has been appointed as the new human resources director for the NHS.

Clare Chapman will move from the UK's largest private sector employer to look after the NHS's 1.3 million staff. Her appointment as director general of workforce at the Department of Health has been widely welcomed.

Previously vice-president for HR at Pepsi Cola International's central European section, and dean of the 'Quaker University' set up to improve 'change management' at Quaker Oats, Ms Chapman has 20 years of HR experience, but none in the public sector.

Despite that, she is thought to have fought off competition from NHS Employers director and deputy director Steve Barnett and Sian Thomas, among others, to land the biggest HR job in the UK.

Although Tesco recently hit the headlines when it launched a pilot project in which employees were not paid for their first three days off sick, Ms Chapman has been generally well regarded by her trade union counterparts during her time at Tesco. Officials at the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW) said they had a good working relationship with Ms Chapman. Her idea of giving new Tesco recruits an application form for USDAW along with their job application forms is given as an example of her inclusivity.

Unison head of health Karen Jennings said: 'Clare Chapman is a woman who I feel sure we can do business with. Unison is pleased that she brings with her a strong track record of partnership working.'

Health secretary Patricia Hewitt said: 'Clare's commitment to social partnership and her experience of leading HR development in large UK and international organisations will be invaluable.'

Ms Chapman, who is due to take up her new post in January, will replace Andrew Foster who resigned as NHS workforce director in the spring.

Ms Chapman is also a non-executive director of First Choice Holidays and she sits on the government's apprenticeship task force as well as the board of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority.

She said: 'I am sure that the achievements of recent years in the health and social care system are thanks to the talents and hard work of staff who make the difference every day for patients and users of services.

'I share the commitment that these staff have for the NHS and social care system and its values.'