The Department of Health and Social Care has announced its proposed new chair of NHS England.

Conservative peer Lord Prior of Brampton will take over from Sir Malcolm Grant this autumn, becoming only the second chair of the organisation.

Lord Prior was previously a health minister under Jeremy Hunt, with responsibility for productivity, from May 2015 to December 2016.

He was chair of the Care Quality Commission from 2013 to 2015 and is currently chair of University College London Hospitals Foundation Trust, a post he toook up in December.

The NHS England chair appointment is subject to a pre-appointment hearing with the Commons health and social care committee, which can recommend for or against it, although the government is not required to take its advice.

The appointment had been expected before the summer, but was delayed.

Sir Malcolm has been in post since NHS England - formally called the NHS Commissioning Board - was created by the Health Act 2012. He had been president and provost of University College London for 10 years prior to this. 

Government and officials have previously considered NHS England sharing a chair with NHS Improvement, but have been advised this would be impossible under current legislation.

Simon Stevens, the current chief executive, joined the organisation in spring 2014.

Lord Prior is well known in the health sector, and has made a number of controversial statements while in senior roles. 

These include that the the NHS is too big and centralised, and even God “would struggle” to manage it; and in 2015 that the premise of a tax funded NHS “has to be questioned” if economic growth lags behind demand for a long time. 

He has also noted - before it became a widely accepted view by government in recent years - that competition and the market have a strictly limited role in healthcare

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: ”We love the NHS and are determined to guarantee it for everyone for the long term. Lord Prior brings huge experience to this important role where he will help deliver the long-term plan for the NHS.

”He is enormously qualified, having led an NHS trust, been a former health minister and a chairman of the Care Quality Commission.

“I look forward to working with Lord Prior closely and want to thank the outgoing Sir Malcolm Grant for his service to the role and the NHS.”