• Harding to step down as NHSI chair at end of her term in October
  • The Tory peer will not seek re-appointment
  • HSJ understands she informed Sajid Javid of her decision today

Baroness Dido Harding will step down from her remaining NHS role — as NHS Improvement chair — in October, she has informed the government.

Baroness Harding’s term as NHS Improvement chair is due to end in October, after four years in the role. She told Sajid Javid in a letter today that she will not seek reappointment, HSJ understands.

The Conservative peer led the government’s Test and Trace initiative from May 2020 to April, which turned her into a very high-profile and controversial figure. The performance of the test and trace system has been questioned by the National Audit Office, among others.

Baroness Harding applied to become NHS England chief executive earlier this year but was not appointed.

HSJ understands her letter to the health and social care secretary says she believes she has overseen successful work to bring NHSI together with NHSE, and on the NHS People Plan, and she feels it is the right time to leave the role.

NHSI is likely to need an interim chair to cover from November to April next year, when government legislation before Parliament is due to formally merge NHSI and NHSE.

The current NHS England chair is Lord David Prior, who gave up the Conservative whip when he was appointed in 2018. His first term as chair ends in April next year. It is not yet known if he will seek reappointment to the merged NHS England.

Baroness Harding was previously the chief executive of telecoms firm TalkTalk, and held several other senior roles in the private sector.