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Independents' Day

US healthcare boss to be appointed chief executive of NHS England next year

UnitedHealth boss Simon Stevens has been appointed as the next chief executive of NHS England and will take over next April.

Simon Stevens will take over the position from Sir David Nicholson, who was unable to shake off widespread criticism after the Francis report into the failures of care at Mid Staffordshire Foundation NHS Trust scandal and subsequently resigned.

Simon Stevens is currently executive vice president of the private healthcare giant UnitedHealth Group. He is also president of its Global Health division and before that health policy director for former Prime Minister Tony Blair, responsible for reform of the NHS.

NHS England said that Mr Stevens would be paid a salary of £211,000, but had volunteered to take a voluntary 10% pay cut for the year ahead, so he will instead draw a salary of £189,900.

Professor Malcolm Grant, chair of NHS England, said that they had looked at over 100 potential candidates and that Mr Stevens was the best man for the job because he could bring experience from many different models of healthcare delivery.

He told BBC Radio 4: ‘In Simon Stevens, we are confident we have found someone who is a global leader in health. We wanted to find the best person to bring new ideas and innvovation into the NHS.’

In a statement, Mr Stevens said: ‘The next five years are going to be extremely challenging for the NHS, but compassionate high quality care for all is as vital as ever.

‘It will be a privilege to lead NHS England - at a time when the stakes have never been higher – because I believe in the NHS, and because I believe that a broad new partnership of patients, carers, staff and the public can together chart a successful future for our health service.’

In a joint statement, NHS Clinical Commissioners’ interim chair Dr Charles Alessi and interim president Dr Michael Dixon said the appointment was ‘hugely welcome’.

They said: ‘The NHS faces significant challenges and we look forward to working with him to to ensure that the commissioning system is aligned around a common goal that means the NHS delivers the highest possible quality care as efficiently as possible.’

But Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the GPC, said to Pulse: ‘Simon Stevens clearly knows the NHS well and is highly able, but he is returning to an NHS that is under huge pressure and in a very financially challenged environment.

‘What we hope is that he will recognise the central role of GPs and general practice in ensuring the future sustainability of the NHS, that he will support, develop and invest in general practice – recognising this will be key to cost efficiencies the NHS requires. 

‘GPs are part of the solution to the NHS pressures and challenges – and that will mean reversing the progressive disinvestment in general practice over recent years.’

Dr Nagpaul added: ‘We also hope he will see the value in enabling the NHS to work in a more co-ordinated way, ensuring the NHS is consolidated and stabilised and existing providers are supported rather than threatened, because that is what’s required for it to work within this extremely challenging environment.’

Matt Tee, chief operating officer of the NHS Confederation said: ‘I have known Simon since we worked together at Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospitals. His appointment is really welcome at what is one of the most challenging times in the history of the NHS.

‘Simon is a highly respected global health leader who has retained close links with the NHS and has NHS values at his core.’


Readers' comments (25)

  • To oversee the privatisation of the Health Service . He will flog it to his mates in the industry . No conflict of interest because they're all interested in making a profit .

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  • This was a wise choice. The NHS will fail unless some form of insurance can be introduced into our system. There is a desperate need for a more mixed heath economy in the UK.

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  • He took a 10% pay cut so he must be ever so keen to get privatising

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  • Sorry have I missed something but aren't the
    majority of GPs private contractors and desperate
    to maintain that status.

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  • The appointment of the Simon Stevens makes perfect sense if you want to fill the position with someone who believes the NHS should be privatised. He does. He believes in the values of the NHS so much he decided to leave it to go to a US healthcare giant.

    Unitedheatlhcare (Stevens) as chief of NHS, McKinsey (Bennett)as head of Monitor, Reform & Circle as head of policy in No10 (Seddon).

    The Health bill was written to create a market, the restructuring was to create a market, the words choice are deceitful and those that use it are liars and blaggards.

    The sheer volume of MPs and Lords with recent or present financial links to companies involved in healthcare who were able to vote on the legislation makes a mockery of our democracy.

    They are not public servants but corporate servants and their interests are that of their paymasters.

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  • So, one of the people responsible for starting all the privatization.. in the Labor years, then a head of a private health insurance company in the USA, and now to what... continue what he was doing? How much more blatant can this government get? And love the way he was heralded on BBC. Personally, I would love to go Private and charge £50 for all the people whom crammed to see me on my duty day yesterday - 2 in 40 with something worthy of attention - people will miss us when we are gone (well, when we charge).

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  • The strategy is now clear . Make it a contractual requirement for NHS gp's to be responsible for 24/7 care of complex chronic patients as they are expensive to look after and promote private companies to cherry pick " packages of care " for the working well. Much more profitable for United Health .

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  • Una Coales

    @10:26 options are to set up a private GP practice or emigrate. Patients will end up paying top ups to see state GPs. This will reduce unreasonable demands and shopping lists. However now salaried GPs working for private health insurance companies or federations may be hounded by private management to work faster, harder and for less.

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  • Looking into the detail of his career it seems unfair to label him as simply there to privatise. He did a lot of work on securing investment and national service standards.

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  • Is it possible to work faster or harder than we do ? The government have set the working conditions so they are so arduous that there is nothing left to fight for.

    How clever they feel they are. I curse them and wish that they get to experience the healthcare they have made. Perhaps they will have enough money but some of their extended family won't. Their grandchildren will not thank them when the history of healthcare is written.

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