Ruth May is named chief nursing officer for England

She will take her place on the newly formed NHS Executive Group

She will take her place on the newly formed NHS Executive Group

Ruth May, England’s new chief nurse. Picture: Barney Newman

Ruth May, executive director of nursing for NHS Improvement (NHSI), has been named chief nurse for England.

The former theatre sister will take her place in the new NHS Executive Group, a combined management team for NHSI and NHS England.

The merging of leadership for the organisations will mean closer collaboration between them, with current running costs falling by 20%, a statement today said.

Dr May will take over from England chief nursing officer (CNO) Jane Cummings.

She responded to messages of congratulation on Twitter, saying: 'I'm looking forward to it and it’s an immense privilege'.

Nurse colleagues rushed to praise Dr May, including Professor Cummings who wrote: 'Congratulations to @RMayNurseDir who is taking over from me as #ChiefNursingOfficer. Enjoy and best of luck.'

Congratulations to @RMayNurseDir who is taking over from me as #ChiefNursingOfficer Enjoy and best of luck #FutureNursing #FutureMidwifery #NursingNowEngland Jx

— Jane Cummings (@JaneMCummings) December 11, 2018

Critical care nurse Charlotte Johnston wrote: 'Very pleased for my mentor and friend – nearly six years now we’ve talked, supported, disagreed and encouraged each other. I couldn’t be prouder.'

Very pleased for my Mentor and friend. @RMayNurseDir promoted to NHS England Chief Nursing Officer - taking over the role from Jane Cummings.

Nearly 6 years now we’ve talked, supported, disagreed and encouraged each other. I couldn’t be prouder #mentorship #nhsengland

— Charlotte Johnston RN (@CJohnston1903) December 11, 2018

Acting RCN general secretary Dame Donna Kinnair said: ‘Ruth brings many years of nursing and leadership experience to the role. She will be a powerful and passionate voice for nursing in England.’

However, Professor Kinnair said she would rather the CNO role had remained inside Whitehall, where there is direct access to government ministers.

She added: ‘The nurse leadership voice is crucial to the broad health and care policy debate. Ministers need that perspective inside government as well as in the NHS and the RCN still wishes to see a chief nurse post reinstated at the Department of Health and Social Care.’

Ruth May’s career highlights

Once a theatre sister at Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey, Dr May has also held the following positions:

  • NHS Improvement executive director of nursing
  • Monitor nursing director
  • Midlands and East region of NHS England regional chief nurse and nurse director
  • The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King’s Lynn and Mid-Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust chief executive
  • Havering Primary Care Trust substantive director of nursing and deputy chief executive


Other executive appointments

NHSI chief executive Ian Dalton and NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens will chair the NHS Executive Group. Other appointments include:

  • NHS chief financial officer – Julian Kelly.

  • National NHS medical director – Professor Stephen Powis.

  • Deputy chief executive, NHS England – Matthew Swindells.

  • National director for emergency and elective care – Pauline Philip.

  • National director for strategy and innovation – Ian Dodge.

  • National director for transformation and corporate development – Emily Lawson.

Mr Stevens said the appointments were 'an important milestone'.

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