NHS is looking for a ‘critical friend’ to hold organisation to account

The new chair of NHS England will play a crucial role in making the organisation accountable for delivering improvements in patient care and value for money

2nd November 2021 about a 3 minute read

The government has advertised for a new chair for NHS England, specifying that it is looking for a “critical friend” who will hold the organisation to account.

According to a role description published last week, the candidate should also be able to nurture links with the pharma industry and make sure that  NHS England’s strategic direction is “aligned to wider government and health and social care policy.”

The current chair of NHS England, Lord David Prior, will step down early in the new year, after serving about three years and three months of a four-year term.

The new chair, the role description says, will “play a crucial role in holding the organisation to account to deliver improvements in patients’ care, value for money and broader health reforms. This will include elective service recovery and creating a new integrated system between health and social care, focussed on improving outcomes required as a result of the new health and social care levy.”

The successful candidate will also need to “maintain strong business relationships with key private sector stakeholders who provide valuable NHS services, particularly pharmaceutical companies and other life sciences businesses who are providing the Covid vaccines”. The candidate will be expected to be a “role model for leading cultural changes that will transform and improve the quality and efficiency of patient services.”

A significant record of achievement and of leading change

Whoever is appointed will work two or three days a week at a salary of £63,000 a year.

The successful candidate, according to the role description, will have “strong strategic leadership skills, with a significant record of achievement and of leading change and reform at the highest levels, together with an ability to lead the board of a major national organisation, deliver robust governance and accountability, and develop executive and board performance.” The person appointed will also need to be an “excellent communicator, with an ability to collaborate effectively with others to drive change in a large, complex system.”

Although the appointment will be made by ministers, the advisory panel for the appointment includes Sir Chris Wormald, permanent secretary at the Department of Health and Social Care, Samantha Jones, the prime minister’s expert advisor on NHS transformation and social care, and Ron Kalifa, a non-executive director of the Bank of England court of directors.

NHS England will merge with NHS Improvement in April, under the Health and Care Act which is currently being considered by Parliament. The Act will also increase the health and social care secretary’s powers of direction over NHS England.

The appointment comes at a challenging time for NHS England, as the government introduces plans to integrate health and social care.

The closing date for applications is 16 November 2021.