US health president to take over as NHS England chief executive

Oliver Smith
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UNITED Healthcare global health president Simon Stevens has been appointed to lead NHS England, the most powerful body in the national health service.

Stevens, who takes over from Sir David Nicholson in April, has previously worked as a health advisor to Labour.

Upon his appointment Stevens has offered to take a voluntary 10 per cent pay cut due to the current NHS spending pressures, he will draw a salary of £189,900 in the first year.

“He has huge experience, both national and global, and across all sectors, and is admired by healthcare professionals across the world for his commitment to the values of the NHS and to the provision of quality healthcare for all,” said NHS England chairman professor Sir Malcolm Grant.

“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,” added Grant.

Simon Stevens – whose appointment was made following open competition and a worldwide search – said in a statement, “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.”


Simon Stevens started his work in the NHS at Guy’s and St Thomas’s Hospital Trust in London during the late 1980’s and for much of the 1990’s.

In the late 1990’s he became an adviser to Alan Milburn and worked on the 2000 NHS Plan which subsequently led to a huge increases in NHS investment.

Stevens was a strong advocate for increasing the use of the private sector in health while worked with Tony Blair as health policy director at 10 Downing Street between 2001 and 2004.

In 2006 Stevens joined Ovations, UnitedHealth’s $30bn seniors business, as chief executive.

In January 2009 he joined United Healthcare where he worked as executive vice president, UnitedHealth Group and president Global Health, with responsibilities in health care reform and global health interests.

He went on to lead United Healthcare’s European arm and later worked as a senior executive in the US where he worked buying $100bn of healthcare services from doctors and hospitals and other health professionals around the world.

With his health care experience spanning 20 years in hospitals and primary care in the private and public sectors, both in the United States and internationally, Stevens has also served on the boards of a number of leading non-profit groups in New York, Minnesota and London.