It has been reported that Amanda Pritchard will become the new Chief Executive of NHS England, succeeding Sir Simon Stevens, who took up post in 2014. This is set to be confirmed by the Prime Minister this afternoon.

Stevens announced that he was formally standing down as Chief Executive of NHS England in April and has now been given a Life Peerage in the House of Lords. Pritchard is expected to start her new role in the coming days.

Pritchard was Chief Operating Officer of NHS England, and Chief Executive and Chief Operating Officer of NHS Improvement for two years, from July 2019 to July 2021. She was also formerly Chief Executive of Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust from January 2016 to July 2019, having been acting Chief Executive since October 2015. Prior to this she served as Chief Operating Officer of Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust from April 2012 to October 2015. Pritchard was also the Health Team Leader within Tony Blair’s Delivery Unit from 2005 to 2006.

While Pritchard’s immediate priorities remain unclear, the NHS still faces unprecedented challenges following the COVID-19 pandemic. We can therefore expect a key focus to remain on addressing the backlog in both physical and mental healthcare services. In addition, as the Health and Care Bill works its way through Parliament and Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) are put onto a statutory footing, she will be responsible for realising the ambitions of the NHS Long Term Plan.

As the health service recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, Pritchard’s relationship with Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, Health Secretary, Sajid Javid and Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak will be of critical importance. While her predecessor, Stevens, was seen as an adept political operator able to negotiate increases to the NHS budget, Pritchard is an unknown entity in this regard. It was previously thought that the Government’s new appointment would be less independently minded than Stevens and less likely to make policy demands in public or appear before parliamentary committees.  Her management of relations with No.10 may benefit from her experience as part of Tony Blair’s Delivery Unit and she may come to play a vital role in delivering levelled up health outcomes.

In terms of internal NHS management, Pritchard was the appointment of choice for the NHS England Board and is widely respected by senior NHS leaders having held a number of positions within the NHS system.

Sir Simon Stevens is also reported to have stated that Pritchard was the best person to succeed him.