The Government has unveiled former health minister Lord David Prior as its chosen candidate to become the next NHS England char.
Lord Prior, who served under former health secretary Jeremy Hunt, will take over from Professor Sir Malcolm Grant who has chaired NHS England since its inception in 2013.
Lord Prior is currently University College London Hospital NHS Trust chair and has previously chaired both the CQC and the Norfolk, Norwich University NHS Foundation Trust.
His appointment is subject to scrutiny by the House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee before taking effect, with a hearing scheduled to be held on Monday next week.
Declaring Lord Prior’s political activity, the Department of Health and Social Care said: ‘Lord Prior was Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health in the Conservative government between 2015 and 2017, and has taken the Conservative Whip in the House of Lords since taking his seat in 2015.’
Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘We love the NHS and are determined to guarantee it for everyone for the long term. Lord Prior brings huge experience to this important role where he will help deliver the long-term plan for the NHS.
‘He is enormously qualified, having led an NHS trust, been a former health minister and a chairman of the Care Quality Commission.
‘I look forward to working with Lord Prior closely and want to thank the outgoing Sir Malcolm Grant for his service to the role and the NHS.’
Labour shadow health minister Justin Madders said: ‘Patients and their families will have real questions about the independence of the NHS under this Government when key positions are repeatedly being filled by Tory party grandees.
‘With the NHS suffering from catastrophic mishandling and underfunding by this Government, we need leaders to champion and support the NHS not defend the actions of the Tories…
‘The secretary of state must urgently clarify how he will guarantee NHS England’s independence through this appointment, and publish the justification behind rejecting other candidates without a direct link to the Conservative Party.’