North East strategic health authority chief executive Ian Dalton has been appointed to the new position of national director for NHS flu resilience.

The appointment is a secondment from his position at the SHA, which will be temporarily filled by its director of finance and communications David Stout.

Mr Dalton will report directly to NHS chief executive David Nicholson.

He will be responsible for ensuring that all NHS organisations in England have solid plans for dealing with a flu pandemic and have the right equipment and drugs. He will also lead any vaccination programmes. He began work yesterday.

Vital role

Health secretary Alan Johnson said: “We already have robust arrangements in place that are continuing to ensure we are well placed to deal with swine flu. The appointment of Ian Dalton will support the vital operational side of our plans by ensuring every NHS organisation in England is in the best possible position to protect the population.”

Mr Dalton has held a number of chief executive posts in the NHS and was previously seconded to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to lead the reconstruction of the health service in southern Iraq following the second Gulf war.