Ex-adviser Stevens named NHS chief
A former Labour health adviser is to lead the NHS, it has been announced.
Simon Stevens will take on the role of chief executive of NHS England in April next year when the current head, Sir David Nicholson, retires.
Mr Stevens, who was widely regarded as Prime Minister David Cameron's preferred candidate, was an adviser to Alan Milburn when he was health secretary and then Tony Blair as prime minister.
He is currently president of global health and group executive vice-president at UnitedHealth, the US private healthcare firm.
Previously he was chief executive of UnitedHealth's Medicare company and has worked across the NHS running hospitals, health authorities and community services.
Mr Stevens will be paid the same as Sir David - £211,000 per year - but has offered to take a 10% pay cut in the first year due to "NHS spending pressures", NHS England said.
He will draw a salary of £189,900 in the first year.
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."
NHS England chairman Professor Sir Malcolm Grant said: "I am delighted that Simon will be taking on this exceptionally challenging leadership role for the NHS."
He added: "I look forward to working closely with him as we lead innovation, change and significant improvement in safety and quality to patients across all areas of the NHS.
"We have been through a rigorous global search, and engaged with a range of excellent candidates.
"I am confident that Simon Stevens is the right person to lead NHS England through the coming years, bringing new ideas and fresh energy."
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: "Simon has an extraordinary reputation in the UK and abroad as a reformer and an innovator, and we are lucky to have someone of his calibre doing such a vital role.
"He will make a key contribution to the two biggest challenges facing the NHS right now: how to raise standards of care and also be financially sustainable.
"His passion for our universal health service free at the point of use goes back many years but he will add international expertise as we face the challenges ahead."
Dean Royles, Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation and of NHS Employers, said: "This is a significant appointment at the most crucial of times for the NHS.
"There is an urgent need for consensus about the future challenges facing the NHS, if we are to be able to effectively put in place the actions needed to provide solutions. We welcome Simon to his new post as chief executive of NHS England and look towards an early meeting to discuss the challenge we face and how we can help with the task ahead."