New deputy leader for boosting NHS recruitment

Author: Adrian O'Dowd

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NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE/I) have appointed Professor Em Wilkinson-Brice to the role of deputy chief people officer as part of plans to make the NHS a more attractive place to work.

The new position will play a leading role in supporting delivery of the NHS Long Term Plan by developing and implementing the NHS’ People Plan which is due to be published towards the end of this year as a drive to make the NHS a better place to work for staff, improve leadership culture, and boost recruitment in key roles.


Professor Wilkinson-Brice joins from Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust where she was deputy chief executive and chief nurse as part of a long career working in the NHS for the past 30 years.

Previously, she specialised in cardiology and high dependency care, later she worked as director of nursing and facilities at Derby Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, as well as working at the Department of Health and Social Care before returning to Exeter in 2010 where she has been chief nurse, chief operating officer as well as undertaking system work within the Devon STP.

The Interim NHS People Plan was published in May and set out several actions that services across the NHS could implement quickly to start making an immediate impact on better supporting the NHS’ workforce including:

  • expanding the NHS’ retention scheme to all NHS trusts and into general practice. The scheme has so far helped keep more than a 1,000 nurses, midwives and other clinicians in the NHS
  • developing a “new offer” that will set out what staff can expect from the NHS as a modern employer
  • asking all NHS boards to set targets for black and minority ethnic representation across their workforce, including at senior levels by the end of 2020-21.

Professor Wilkinson-Brice will work part-time with NHS England and NHS Improvement during September, before taking up her new role on a full-time basis in October where she will work alongside Prerana Issar, chief people officer.

“This is a really exciting time to be joining NHSE/I to work with Prerana to ensure that we have a workforce with the right values, behaviours and skills to deliver the best care possible for patients,” said Professor Wilkinson-Brice.

“The NHS is at its heart a people organisation – whether that is the people who need care or those delivering it – and I am delighted to be involved in a way that can help shape a new approach that makes the NHS a more inclusive and engaging place to work and that allows people to fulfil their potential to deliver compassionate care.”


Image courtesy of NHS England

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