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NHS chief executive to stand down

Sir Nigel Crisp acknowledges his accountability for health service ìfinancial problemsî

Sir Nigel Crisp is standing down as chief executive of the National Health Service (NHS) and permanent secretary at the Department of Health (DoH), admitting that recent financial problems played a big part in his decision.

Despite overseeing huge spending increases and waiting lists falling to record lows, Sir Nigel, 54, has come under pressure in recent months as the health service heads towards a record overspend.

Critics say that the focus on the ongoing reorganisation of strategic health authorities and primary care trusts is hampering the push towards ambitious waiting time targets that the government has promised to achieve.

Sir Ian Carruthers will step in as acting chief executive, while Hugh Taylor will become acting permanent secretary of the DoH.

ìI am particularly saddened by the difficulties we have had over the last few months and the financial problems we are grappling with,î said Sir Nigel. ìAs chief executive, I wish to acknowledge my accountability for problems just as I may take some credit for achievements.î

He added that the timing of his retirement ìis right for the NHSî adding: ìThe NHS needs a chief executive who can give leadership over several more years.î

British Medical Association chairman James Johnson said it was not the organisation's policy to comment on individuals at the Department of Health.

ìThere are clearly problems in the NHS and we look forward to working with his successors to help tackle these problems in the most appropriate way,î he commented.

Bill Moyes, chairman of foundation trust regulator, Monitor, said the NHS had made ìgreat progress under Sir Nigel's leadershipî.

ìThe NHS is now entering a crucial phase in the reform programme,î he added. ìWe look forward to working with Ian Carruthers and Hugh Taylor in the coming months to ensure that the momentum of the reforms is maintained.

Sir Nigel joined the NHS in 1986 and held a variety of senior managerial positions before being appointed chief executive in November 2000. He became the first civil servant to combine the previously separate role of head of a government department and head of the NHS.

30th September 2008

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