Major NHS leadership shifts announced

Both NHS England and Improvement (NHSE/I) and NHS Digital are preparing for a change in their senior leadership as the health service seeks to usher in the new era of healthcare innovation post-pandemic.

NHSE/I recently announced the appointment of Dr Timothy Ferris as director of transformation. This newly-created role, which Ferris will adopt in May 2021, will bridge NHSE and NHSX to encourage the ongoing momentum for innovation within the health service that was catalysed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ferris, who has been a non-executive director of NHSI for almost 3 years, joins the new Transformation Directorate from Massachusetts General Physicians Organization, where he was CEO, and from a professorship at Harvard Medical School. He has established himself as an international pioneer of population health management, founding the Center for Population Health, which promotes the use of data to improve health and reduce health inequalities.


Ferris’ appointment coincides with news that Sarah Wilkinson will be stepping down as CEO of NHS Digital this summer, after four years in the job.

Wilkinson, who was recently voted the most influential person in UK technology, explained her decision: “As the work associated with the pandemic starts to stabilise, and planning commences for the ambitious program of transformation over the next few years, I have come to the conclusion that it would be better for a new CEO to step into the role now so that they can provide continuous leadership over the programs of that post-COVID agenda, and now is an appropriate time for me to leave the organisation.

“That new CEO will be able to build upon strong foundations in an organisation that knows what it can do, and I will work closely with them to ensure a smooth transition to new leadership for our programmes, products, and people.”

NHS Digital are currently seeking an interim CEO before recruiting for a permanent hire later in the year.


Dr Tim Ferris said of his appointment: “The NHS and its staff have responded magnificently to the COVID-19 pandemic and I’m proud and excited to take up this role as the health service integrates convenient yet cutting-edge technology into patient care. The successful NHS vaccine programme and development of new therapies for COVID-19 has shown that the NHS can be hugely agile and innovative. I look forward to playing my part in ensuring that the NHS continues to stay at the forefront of developing and adopting new technologies and treatments to improve health and treatment.”

CEO of NHSX, Matthew Gould, added: “Dr Ferris’ appointment is excellent news for the NHS, and for driving its digitally-led transformation. Over the past year, NHSX has helped the health and care system bring virtual consultations, remote working and remote monitoring of patients at home into the mainstream. Today’s news is another step putting digital transformation at the heart of the NHS, and accelerating the pace of transformation.”

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