Simon Stevens to step down as NHS England employer at end of July

Sir Simon Stevens is standing down as the head of the NHS in England after seven years marked by tussles with ministers over cash and the successful rollout of the Covid vaccination programme.

NHS England said Stevens, 54, would leave his post as president in July. Downing Street stated the previous NHS manager and Labour government special adviser under Tony Blair would become a life peer.

NHS sources say that his successor is likely to be somebody who is less outspoken and less going to challenge the government, especially over the health service’s spending plan, which led to rows with No 10 and the Treasury over the last few years.

Experts identified Amanda Pritchard, Stevens’ deputy, Sir James Mackey, chief executive of the Northumbria NHS trust, and Dr Tim Ferris, an American doctor who is the NHS’s director of change, as likely contenders to change him.

While NHS England’s board chooses its favored follower, the federal government– through Matt Hancock, the health secretary– has a right of veto. The NHS hopes to designate Stevens’ replacement by the time he steps down on 31 July.

Pritchard, who is on secondment from her role as president of the Man’s and St Thomas’ rely on London, is a strong competitor. She is admired by fellow NHS bosses and has within knowledge of how the federal government works from a spell in Tony Blair’s Downing Street shipment unit in 2005-06.

NHS insiders state that she has been prepared for the top job in current months, for instance through making a look answering MPs’ questions together with Stevens at a current evidence session with the health and social care choose committee. She would be the service’s first female chief executive.

Mackey has won admirers in the NHS for his stewardship of the Northumbria severe care trust. He took a two-year sabbatical from that to lead NHS Enhancement, the service’s financial regulator, which will merge with NHS England next year as a result Boris Johnson’s planned shake-up of the service.

Like Pritchard, he has lots of experience running an NHS trust which, insiders say, is important, given the service’s spiralling waiting-list of individuals awaiting medical facility treatment, especially surgery, which presently stands at a record 4.7 m. He has a long performance history of innovation and managed to keep the number of operations cancelled due to the fact that of the pandemic lower in Northumbria than in numerous comparable trusts.

The NHS reform costs due to be unveiled in the Queen’s speech on 11 May will hand the health secretary back much of the power over NHS England that the department of health ceded under reforms in 2012.

One senior NHS authorities stated: “The federal government want someone who’s much less political and much more operational than Simon. With him going there’ll be a modification of style along with a change of person in the top job. If the secretary of state is increasing his powers of instructions over the NHS, and he’s going to be more assertive, they’re not going to have a Simon Stevens-type president, who acts like a health secretary. They’ll desire somebody who can focus on functional shipment and a various power balance.”

Stevens has actually used the self-reliance that the NHS England president takes pleasure in to press the federal government– publicly and sometimes to its pain– to give the service more cash. In 2017 he informed a committee of MPs that a claim by the then prime minister Theresa Might that the NHS was getting more than the ₤ 8bn extra financing it had actually sought, was “stretching it”, causing fury in No 10.

Lord Prior, NHS England’s chair, stated: “Simon has actually successfully led the NHS through its biggest ever obstacles– the worst pandemic in a century, the best funding squeeze considering that the second world war, and extraordinary political volatility, working along with 3 prime ministers and 4 chancellors.”

Although ministers have actually routinely applauded Stevens’ enthusiastic plans to reform and enhance the NHS, his period has been marked by a series of behind-the-scenes rows with different governments over problems such waiting times and the NHS’s budget plan. Relations with the Treasury have actually been periodically tense as it demanded more noticeable enhancements for its belated injection of significant extra financing in recent years.

Some senior authorities are also tipping Ferris as a potential successor. The Americanused to be president of the Massachusetts General Physicians Organization, a not-for-profit doctor.

Announcing the relocation, Stevens stated: “Joining the health service in my early 20s was among the best choices I’ve ever made, followed 3 decades later by the benefit of leading the NHS through some of the toughest challenges in its history.”

Boris Johnson paid tribute to Stevens, whom he became good friends with at the University of Oxford in the 1980s regardless of their respective participation in the Conservative association and the Labour club. He said: “Sir Simon has actually led the NHS with terrific difference for the past 7 years. I want to thank him for his dedicated service throughout, however specifically when facing the remarkable pressures of the previous year, and for his huge contribution to our vaccine rollout.”

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