NHS Chief Executive goes back to school to celebrate the NHS’s 75th anniversary

NHS England has partnered with youth social mobility charity Speakers for Schools to celebrate the NHS’s 75th birthday in 2023. The partnership will see over 150 senior leaders and executives from across the NHS speak to young people at state secondary schools all over the country, either in person or online. The partnership follows a similar successful initiative for the NHS’s 70th in 2018.

Opening up the celebrations, Amanda Pritchard, Chief Executive of NHS England returned to her former school, Durham Johnston Comprehensive School, to speak to students about her favourite subjects at school, the sheer scale of the NHS and what her job entails. She also surprised students that she didn’t know what she wanted to be when she was their age.

The partnership between Speakers for Schools and NHS England will highlight and demystify working in the NHS for young people. The talk series will see speakers sharing their career journeys, and skills needed to work in the NHS and showcase careers you might not have heard of within the health service. Speakers will also highlight the role science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects have for some professional careers in the Service

Amanda Pritchard, Chief Executive, NHS England said: “As someone who has spent just over a quarter of a century working in the NHS, I have first-hand experience of how rewarding a health service career truly can be.

“With over 350 different roles available – from nursing, to biomedical specialist through to plumbing – there is a potential profession for everyone.

“The last few years have been a stark reminder of the phenomenal work NHS staff do – from treating more than a million covid patients to dealing with the busiest winter in our history.”

Aisha, 15-year-old student at the school said: “I really enjoyed Amanda’s talk, she inspired me to keep on my track of choosing NHS as a career. She gave us good advice about studying hard, trying your best, focusing on what you’re doing and something will come in your future that will be great for you.”

Andrew O’Sullivan, Headteacher at Durham Johnston Comprehensive school said: “The fact that Amanda is willing to give her time is a really positive thing and a wonderful opportunity for the students. And as a part of that she was willing to talk about the NHS and how complex the organisation is. As well as sound guidance about careers and pathways into the NHS. It’s great to have someone return to our school who has achieved such success in their life.”

Lily Clifford, Head of Inspiration at, Speakers for Schools, commented: “We are delighted to have connected Amanda to her former school. The students were so excited to see her and asked some brilliant questions. Talks like this are vital to spark students’ self-belief and aspirations for their futures. This is just one of the 100s of talks we are organising with NHS England to celebrate 75 years of our brilliant National Health Service.”

Other senior leaders set to return to the classroom include Professor Dame Sue Hill, Chief Scientific Officer for England, Professor Dame Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of Council, Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and Dr Chris Grant, Medical Director for the North West Ambulance Service.

If you are a local business or school and would like to get involved, please contact: lily.clifford@speakers4schools.org.

The NHS, working with Inspiring the Future, has launched a similar initiative, NHS Ambassadors, which connects NHS staff – of all levels and professions – to give school talks, virtually or in person.

Amanda Pritchard standing with a group of school pupils