• New NHS England and Improvement chief operating officer is on secondment from her trust
  • HSJ understands NHSE hopes Amanda Pritchard will consider whether to make arrangement permanent in coming months
  • Guy’s and St Thomas’ says secondment is for “up to two years”
  • Comes after NHSI chief and NHSE deputy chief pushed out of their roles

The newly-appointed NHS chief operating officer is taking up the role on a secondment basis and has told staff at her trust she expects to “return to the trust after a period working at national level”, HSJ has learned.

Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation Trust, where Amanda Pritchard is currently chief executive, told HSJ the secondment was “for up to two years”.

Ms Pritchard was this morning announced as the new COO of NHS England and NHS Improvement, effectively the deputy chief executive of the NHS, and the chief executive of NHSI “for regulatory purposes”.

Both the current NHSI chief, Ian Dalton, and the NHS England deputy chief executive, Matthew Swindells, have been pushed out of their roles as part of the restructure which has created the new post.

In Ms Pritchard’s announcement to Guy’s and St Thomas’ staff this morning, she said: “This has been an incredibly difficult decision for me personally as my commitment to Guy’s and St Thomas’ remains as strong today as it was on the day that I accepted the role of chief executive more than three years ago. I’m incredibly proud of this organisation, and it has been a privilege to be part of it since I joined as chief operating officer in 2012.

“I am therefore very grateful to the board for agreeing that I take up the national role on a secondment basis, as it is my expectation that I will return to the trust after a period working at national level.”

However, HSJ understands that NHSE/I hope Ms Pritchard will decide in coming months whether to move to the new role substantively.

It is thought arranging the move as a secondment enables Ms Pritchard to keep her current salary – which was around £250,000 in 2017-18 – and to take up the NHSE and NHSI post more quickly. Ms Pritchard is due to join at the end of July. Mr Swindells was paid around £200,000 and Mr Dalton around £290,000.

Public announcements on the appointment by NHSE and I this morning, and by GSTT, did not mention it was a secondment.

The arrangement appears similar to that agreed with Jim Mackey, now Sir Jim Mackey, for him to be the first NHS Improvement chief executive on secondment from Northumbria Healthcare FT for two years, ending in autumn 2017.

Ms Pritchard’s appointment has been welcomed by NHS leadership organisations today. NHS Confederation chief executive Niall Dickson said it was “a great appointment” and that she had “a formidable task ahead”. “This is an important move as NHS England and NHS Improvement combine and it should provide greater consistency and coherence from the centre of the NHS in England,” he said.

NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson said: “This is a good appointment – for the NHS and for provider trusts. Amanda is well-placed to make a success of this key role, drawing on her strong background and record of delivery in the NHS provider sector.”

Guy’s and St Thomas’ chair Sir Hugh Taylor said in a statement: “Amanda will be a great asset to the national team as they tackle critical strategic and operational issues.”

Guy’s and St Thomas’ chief medical officer Ian Abbs will be interim chief executive at the south London teaching hospital trust.

NHSE referred HSJ to its initial announcement.