• Andrew Foster will lead people plan work on supporting NHS leaders
  • Has been chief executive of Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Foundation Trust for more than a decade
  • But unclear if final people plan will be published this year 

A long-standing NHS chief executive is to lead on the development of the people plan.

An NHS England and Improvement spokesman told HSJ Andrew Foster was being brought in to lead on work to “better support hard-working NHS leaders”.

Mr Foster, chief executive of Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh FT, announced earlier this year he would retire in October after 12 years in the role.

Prior to Mr Foster’s role at WWL, he was workforce director general for the Department of Health for five years, where he led negotiations on Agenda for Change and the 2002 Consultant Contract.

“His extensive frontline experience working in the NHS will be invaluable in helping develop the people plan, and deliver on the NHS long-term plan, to provide a world-class service to patients,” the NHSE/I spokesman said.

Julian Hartley previously led the work on the interim workforce plan but it is understood he will step down to return to his role as chief executive of Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust.

It is also currently unclear if the people plan will be published this autumn as originally intended. The interim people plan, published in June, stated a “a full, costed five-year” plan was expected “following the spending review”. However, it is unclear when the spending review will be carried out, with it previously being reported a full spending review may not take place within this year

HSJ asked NHSE/I to clarify if the final people plan is still expected this year. In response, an NHSE/I spokesman said: “As previously announced in the long-term plan and in line with our original commission from the prime minister, we remain committed to publishing the people plan within two months of the publication of the spending review.”