• Amanda Pritchard has been chosen to be the next chief executive of NHS England
  • Simon Stevens steps down this week

Amanda Pritchard has been appointed as the next NHS England chief executive.

She will take up the role on Sunday, replacing Lord (Simon) Stevens. Ms Pritchard is currently the organisation’s chief operating officer, a post she has held for two years.

A message to NHS England staff this afternoon confirmed the appointment and said: “She will lead the NHS at a hugely important time as the health service emerges from a pandemic and having led the biggest and fastest vaccination progamme in this country’s history.

“She could have had no better preparation for the role than serving as the NHS’ chief operating officer during the greatest health emergency in its history.”

Ms Pritchard said in a statement this afternoon: “I am honoured to lead the NHS, particularly as the first woman chief executive of an organisation whose staff are more than three quarters female.

“I have always been incredibly proud to work in the health service but never more so than over the last 18 months as nurses, doctors, therapists, paramedics, pharmacists, porters, cleaners and other staff have responded so magnificently to the Covid pandemic.

“There are big challenges ahead as NHS staff continue to deal with significant pressures while maintaining the roll-out of the hugely successful NHS vaccination programme and tackle backlogs that have inevitably built up in the face of rising Covid infections.

“However the skill, determination and ‘can do’ spirit that NHS staff have shown in the face of the greatest challenge in the health service’s history means we face the future with confidence.”

HSJ reported in April that Ms Pritchard was the favourite to be next NHSE chief executive.

The former boss of Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation Trust in London will become the first female chief executive of the NHS. She has three children, and observed last year that she had been the first person to breast feed a baby during a GSTT board meeting.

The appointment is formally made by NHS England’s board — led by chair Lord David Prior — but the health secretary, Sajid Javid, and prime minister also have a big say in the decision, along with government officials and advisers. 

The other final candidates who were in the running for the post were Mark Britnell, who is a KPMG partner, and Tom Riordan, chief executive of Leeds City Council. Other candidates including as Conservative peer Baroness Dido Harding and Sir James Mackey, chief executive of Northumbria Healthcare Foundation Trust, were discounted earlier in the process.

Ms Pritchard has worked for the NHS for 25 years since graduating from Oxford University.

Updated on 28 July once the appointment was confirmed, and once a statement was issued.