Sir Bruce Keogh has become the first chair of judges for the annual HSJ Awards.

The awards have grown over last four decades to become the largest celebration of excellence in the NHS.

The former NHS England medical director will contribute to the creation of robust criteria for each of the 25 categories and oversee the judging process to make sure it is both fair and transparent.

Sir Bruce said: “Healthcare is a people business where humanity, science, politics and ethics interact to create an ever changing kaleidoscope of opportunity to improve the lives of those afflicted by disease in its infinite forms. It is a business of maximising benefit and minimising risk in an environment where ideas and innovators abound and good leaders empower, support and encourage those who design, manage and deliver services. The NHS is awash with extraordinary people, innovating and driving improvement in a system that often hinders rather than helps and where good ideas and good people often go unrecognised.

“The HSJ Awards are about highlighting some of the very best ideas, people and organisations in our NHS. On the human side, recognising excellence and innovation, publicly or privately, makes those responsible feels warm and valued and encourages them to go further. On a more practical side, well publicised awards raise the profile and reflect well on individuals and organisations, making others want to emulate the winners. These awards help spread the word.”

HSJ editor Alastair McLellan said: “Sir Bruce Keogh is one of the most respected figures in the NHS. As the first medical director of, initially, the Department of Health and then NHS England, he was in vanguard of national initiatives to drive up healthcare quality during a period of very significant challenge for NHS. We are very pleased and proud he will become our first chair of judges.”

Entries for the 2018 HSJ Awards close on 31 May. The winners will be announced in November.