• Gillian Leng will be NICE chief executive from April
  • MPs recently backed new NICE chair

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s deputy chief executive will replace founding CEO Sir Andrew Dillon, after he steps down this month.

Gillian Leng, who is currently also the body’s director of health and social care, will begin the role on 1 April 2020.

Sir Andrew announced he would retire from the watchdog, which advises on the cost-effectiveness of treatments, in August last year. He has helmed NICE since its inception in 1999.

NICE has been searching for a new chief executive officer since last autumn. Of 19 people that applied for the post, six attended preliminary interviews and three made it to the final interview stage, a NICE spokesman told HSJ.

Professor Leng, who has been deputy chief executive since 2007, said in a statement: “Under Andrew’s leadership NICE has gained a formidable reputation both nationally and internationally as a world leader in guidance development.

“I am honoured and privileged to have been appointed as its second chief executive. I look forward to working with the Institute’s staff and stakeholders as we enter an exciting new chapter of innovative changes to deliver our portfolio of guidance into the hands of front-line staff in an easy and intuitive way.”

Professor Leng is also a visiting professor at King’s College London and has worked on clinical trials, epidemiological research and as a consultant in public health medicine.

Meanwhile, the government has been vetting candidates for the role of NICE chair, having appointed existing non-executive director Tim Irish as interim in January.

The Commons health and social care committee backed former BBC executive Sharmila Nebhrajani to take on the role after a hearing earlier this month. Ms Nebhrajani has been chief executive of groups including Wilton Park, a forum owned by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the Association of Medical Research.

Updated at 11.21am on 19th March 2020 with the number of candidates interviewed for the role.