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New nursing leaders announced for NHS in England

Chief nursing officer Ruth May says senior team can ‘deliver on our commitments’

Chief nursing officer Ruth May says senior team can ‘deliver on our commitments’


England’s new deputy chief nursing officers Mark Radford, Susan Aitkenhead
and Hilary Garratt

A group of new nursing leaders has been announced for England, and will provide professional leadership and drive improvement across the profession.

Chief nursing officer for England Ruth May announced the new line-up at her summit in Birmingham yesterday.

Dr May's three deputies will be Hilary Garratt, Mark Radford and Susan Aitkenhead, all of whom have held leadership positions at NHS England.

Regional leaders

Chief nurses will run seven regional teams in England: two in the north, two in the Midlands and east, two in the south and one in London. 

Five are currently in position and will remain in post:

  • North - Margaret Kitching
  • Midlands and East - Siobhan Heathfield 
  • Midlands and East - Lynn Wygens
  • London - Oliver Shandley
  • South - Sue Doheny

Therefore, there is expected to be a further appointment in both the north and the south of the country.

Head of midwifery

In addition, NHS England and NHS Improvement confirmed that Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent will become the first chief midwifery officer for England, while Neil Churchill will take on the role of NHS director of experience, participation and equalities.

Professor Dunkley-Bent has worked as a nurse and midwife, and is currently head of maternity, children and young people for NHS England.

Strength and diversity

Dr May, who also holds a joint role as executive/national director with NHS England and NHS Improvement, said: ‘Nursing and midwifery are two of the most important roles in our NHS, at the heart of millions of people’s care.

‘I’m proud of our new team; individually they each bring expertise, specialist knowledge and leadership, and together we have created a senior team with strength and diversity, and the capability to deliver on our commitments to colleagues and patients.’

Workforce strategy

Professor Dunkley-Bent will help to develop the workforce implementation plan for the NHS – which is set out in the NHS Long Term Plan – and will work on this with Dr May and the recently appointed NHS chief people officer Prerana Issar.

The workforce group will also include representatives from the RCN and other trade unions.


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