The NHS Commissioning Board has appointed Jane Cummings as its chief nursing officer. Ms Cummings is currently the nursing director for NHS North of England, and previously for NHS North West.

The commissioning board CNO is expected to become the lead nurse figure for the English NHS. It is one of two new senior nursing roles created under the government’s reform plans.

Commissioning board chief executive Sir David Nicholson said: “Jane is well known and respected throughout the NHS and has a wealth of knowledge and expertise, coupled with extensive clinical and managerial experience.

“As a clinically-led organisation, this is a vital role and I’m delighted that Jane is joining the Board to provide outstanding clinical and professional leadership to the nursing and midwifery professions and drive forward quality improvements and better outcomes for patients.”

Ms Cummings said: “I am absolutely delighted… It is an enormous privilege to become the professional lead for nurses and midwives in England and I am looking forward to working with them to further improve the quality of care and patient experience for the patients we serve.”

She has led work in the North and nationally to develop the indicators of quality and efficiency of nursing care, and publication of results.

She said: “To be a nurse or midwife is an amazing role; supporting patients and their families when they are at their most vulnerable and when clinical expertise, care and compassion matter most. I am proud to be a part of the future of nursing in England and look forward to supporting and developing the profession in the future.”

A commissioning board statement said a “core role” of the CNO would be “to drive quality improvements in patient safety and patient experience”.

The post was advertised with an indicative base salary of £165,000.

The chief nursing officer for England Dame Christine Beasley retired last year. The post has been replaced by the commissioning board CNO post and a nursing director in the Department of Health, to which former deputy CNO Viv Bennett has been appointed.

There is one commissioning board national director post, the director of patient insight, still to be appointed. It is currently out to advert.