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NHS marks start of 75th year with three new board appointments

As we enter 2023, the health service is commemorating the beginning of its 75th year by adding a wealth of clinical expertise and experience to its board in the form of three new non-executive directors.

The incoming trio include Baroness Mary Watkins, Professor Sir Simon Wessely, and Professor Sir Mark Walport, who NHS England describe as “renowned leaders in their fields,” which cover everything from nursing and mental health to life sciences and research.

Baroness Mary Watkins first qualified as a general and mental health nurse back in the 1970s and is now, amongst other things, a Visiting Professor in the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery and Palliative Care, King’s College London; the Florence Nightingale Foundation’s President; and Plymouth University’s former Deputy Vice-Chancellor.

Professor Sir Simon Wessely has worked in clinical psychiatry for the last 35 years and has held a range of leadership roles in the health sector, including being President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, as well as being the first psychiatrist ever to be elected as the President of the Royal Society of Medicine. Professor Wessely has also been part of several governmental committees that looked at military health, emergency response, population health, and mental health.

Professor Sir Mark Walport’s previous roles include being UK Research and Innovation’s Chief Executive, Director of the Wellcome Trust, and Head of the Government Office for Science and Government Chief Scientific Adviser. Currently though, he is Chair of Imperial College Health Partners, Chair of Imperial College Academic Health Sciences Centre Partnership Board, and an Honorary Distinguished Professor of Medicine at Imperial College London.

NHS England Chair, Richard Meddings, announced the appointments by saying: “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.”

NHS Chief Executive, Amanda Pritchard, welcomed the trio by adding: “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.”

Baroness Watkins, Professor Wessely, and Professor Walport will take up their positions on NHS England’s Board on the 27th of January.

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