NHS England has announced that Sir David Nicholson has decided to step down as chief executive from March 2014. He is retiring.
Sir David has worked in the NHS for 35 years. He was NHS chief executive for almost seven years and in October 2011 agreed to become chief executive of the new NHS Commissioning Board, now known as NHS England.
After the Francis inquiry into the failures at Mid Staffordshire Hospital there were calls for him to go to show some accountability at the top of the NHS.
In a letter to Professor Malcolm Grant, chair of NHS England, Sir David said: “I have only ever had one ambition and that is to improve the quality of care for patients. I still passionately believe in what NHS England intends to do. My hope is that by being clear about my intentions now will give the organisation the opportunity to attract candidates of the very highest calibre so they can appoint someone who will be able to see this essential work through to its completion.”
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “Under Sir David Nicholson’s leadership, NHS waiting times have fallen, infection rates reduced, and mixed sex accommodation is at an all-time low. His job has often been incredibly complex and very difficult, and yet he has always had a reputation for staying calm, and maintaining a relentless focus on what makes a difference on the NHS frontline. I am also grateful to him for overseeing the successful setting up of NHS England and giving us an orderly period in which to select his successor.”