• Guy’s and St Thomas’ chief named for top national role
  • Effectively NHS national deputy chief executive, reporting to Simon Stevens
  • Is NHSI chief exec “for regulatory purposes”

NHS England and NHS Improvement have chosen the boss of a major hospital trust to be their national chief operating officer, effectively the deputy chief executive of the NHS.

Amanda Pritchard, currently Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation Trust chief executive, will take up the role.

The advert for the role said it was “one of the most senior jobs in the largest publicly funded healthcare system in the world”, and “is directly accountable to the NHS CEO (Simon Stevens)… For regulatory purposes the postholder is also the nominated NHS Improvement chief executive”.

The seven new regional directors of NHSE and I are expected to report to Ms Pritchard in the new role. She may be seen as a potential successor to Mr Stevens as chief executive.

It follows Ian Dalton, the current NHSI chief executive, and Matthew Swindells, NHS England deputy chief executive, being unexpectedly forced out in the spring. The moves take place as NHSE and I seek to form joint leadership.

Ms Pritchard became the Guy’s chief in autumn 2015. She has previously worked in several senior NHS roles including as deputy chief at Chelsea and Westminster Hospitals, and also worked in the prime minister’s delivery unit in 10 Downing Street for 10 months in 2006.

Her trust – whose St Thomas’ Hospital site is moments from Whitehall and NHS headquarters in south east London – has recorded surpluses in recent years, unlike most trusts, and has generally performed better than its peers.

As well as specialist and acute health services, it provides community health services across two London boroughs, and has played a major role in the London health economy and beyond, for example supporting cardiac services at St George’s Hospital, and partnering with struggling trusts in Kent. Its chair was earlier this year appointed to chair the nearby struggling King’s College Hospital Foundation Trust in addition.

Mr Stevens said: “I’m very pleased to have been able to appoint Amanda to this critical role, which is integral to creating the newly combined NHS England and NHS Improvement, able to lead the next phase of the NHS’ development.

“Amanda will play a critical role in supporting further progress on quality of care, health outcomes and efficiency, as well as operational performance and delivery.”

Ms Pritchard is also a current member of the NHS Providers board. NHSP 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.

“Her leadership and operational experience will stand her in good stead. As chief executive at Guy’s and St Thomas’, leading a trust delivering specialist hospital care and NHS community services, she understands the challenges and opportunities involved in working towards more integrated, joined up care for patients.”

He also said she “has a good grasp of the needs of the whole provider sector” that it is “good to see such a senior executive post in the NHS arm’s-length bodies taken – for the first time – by a woman”.

She will take up the post on 31 July and will oversee “NHS operational performance and delivery, as well as implementation of the service transformation and patient care improvements set out in the NHS long-term plan”, according to NHSE and I.

Updated at 11am on 5 June to add additional information and at 11.35am to add further comment.