The National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death has appointed the first non-clinical chair in its 20-year history.
Bertie Leigh will take over when Tom Treasure’s term of office comes ends in November.
Mr Leigh is a senior partner with healthcare lawyers Hempsons and has specialised in healthcare and medical law for more than 30 years.
The body said the appointment was intended to “add well-informed criticism from outside the health profession to its enquiries”.
Professor Treasure said: “Forward-thinking professional organisations now recognise the need for public involvement, and I believe that Mr Leigh will bring an element of legal rigour to our debates.
“He understands and is sympathetic to the difficulties doctors can face, but at the same time can view medicine from an outsider’s perspective. Public confidence depends on us being seen to be open to well-informed criticism.”
Mr Leigh said: “I am privileged to be the first non-clinical person to lead NCEPOD, which has a long-established reputation for delivering sound advice and recommendations on safe patient care.”