NHS England appoints leading clinicians to board

NHS England has added a wealth of clinical expertise and experience to its board with the appointment of three new non-executive directors.

Baroness Mary Watkins, Professor Sir Simon Wessely and Professor Sir Mark Walport are renowned leaders in their respective fields of nursing, mental health, and life sciences and research. They will take up their positions on the NHS England Board from 27th January.

Baroness Watkins is an international expert in nursing and healthcare delivery. She qualified as a general nurse in 1976 and a mental health nurse in 1979 and has worked in community, in-patient mental health and acute settings, providing non-emergency and emergency healthcare. She is Visiting Professor in the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery and Palliative Care, King’s College London; President of the Florence Nightingale Foundation; and a former Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Plymouth University.

Professor Sir Simon Wessely is Regius Professor of Psychiatry at King’s College London and has worked as a clinical psychiatrist, specialising in general hospital psychiatry, for the past 35 years. He has held a number of leadership roles and was President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists prior to being the first psychiatrist to be elected President of the Royal Society of Medicine. Professor Wessely has served on numerous national governmental committees connected with military health, emergency response, population health and mental health.

Professor Sir Mark Walport is Honorary Distinguished Professor of Medicine at Imperial College London, Chair of Imperial College Academic Health Sciences Centre Partnership Board, and Chair of Imperial College Health Partners. His previous roles include the Chief Executive of UK Research and Innovation, Government Chief Scientific Adviser and Head of the Government Office for Science, and Director of the Wellcome Trust. This appointment also builds on the NHS’s role as a key partner of universities and the life sciences industries which deliver vital research and innovation, for example developing new treatments for Covid by means of the world-leading RECOVERY trial.

NHS England Chair Richard Meddings said: “I’m delighted to announce the appointment of three leading clinicians to our Board.

“They bring with them a wealth of experience and talent from across the medical, educational, research and scientific fields and I am very much looking forward to working alongside them to guide the NHS in this historic 75th year and beyond.

“Our new colleagues will play a pivotal role alongside my other non-executive colleagues as we make progress in delivering the key ambitions outlined in the NHS Long Term Plan and continue to transform the NHS for the future.”

 Amanda Pritchard, NHS chief executive, said: “As the NHS begins its 75th year, I am delighted to welcome Baroness Mary Watkins, Professor Sir Simon Wessely and Professor Sir Mark Walport to the NHS England Board.

“As we deal with record demand for our services, continue to make progress on recovery following the pandemic, and strive to transform care for the future, I know their extensive clinical knowledge, skills and experience will help us improve services for patients across the country, and I look forward to working with them over the coming months.”