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Lansley backs university chief to head up NHS Commissioning Board

Health secretary Andrew Lansley has personally endorsed academic and former environmental lawyer Professor Malcolm Grant as his preferred candidate to chair the NHS Commissioning Board.

The recommendation comes in spite of calls from GP leaders that the post should be filled by a GP.

Professor Malcolm Grant is a barrister, environmental lawyer, academic and public servant. He is currently president and provost at University College London.

The NHS Commissioning Board will be nationally accountable for the outcomes achieved by the NHS, and will directly commission primary care.

Pulse revealed in July that the NHS Commissioning Board was set to employ around 3,500 staff under the stewardship of five executive directors, with around 2,300 of these assigned to manage and work with GP-led commissioning groups.

Dr Michael Dixon, chair of the NHS Alliance, has previously said appointing a GP would underline ministers' commitment to a clinician-led NHS, and ensure the board, which will authorise clinical commissioning groups and directly commission up to £20bn of services, remained connected to frontline services.

He said: ‘We need a grand gesture by the commissioning board that shows they are changing and not just saying they are, but showing it  - by putting a GP at the top.'