Dr Ruth May has been announced as the new chief nursing officer (CNO) for England.
She will take over from Professor Jane Cummings, who revealed back in May that she would step down from the NHS England CNO role in 2018.
Dr May is currently executive director of nursing for NHS Improvement, but will become the new CNO for England once the management teams for NHS England and NHS Improvement have completed their merger into one new leadership team, called the NHS Executive Group.
NHS England and NHS Improvement will share this leadership team, with the Executive Group responsible for managing both organisations. Dr May will become the sole CNO for England as a result.
She has previously held roles as regional chief nurse and nurse director for the Midlands and East region of NHS England, before moving to NHS Improvement as executive director in 2016.
Prior to her role within the NHS management structure, she was chief executive for Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Kings Lynn, and then Mid-Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust.
Her appointment was welcomed by acting chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing Dame Donna Kinnair, but she cautioned that nursing still needs a presence within the Government.
She said: ‘I’m delighted Ruth May has been appointed chief nursing officer in the new NHS Executive Group. Ruth brings many years of nursing and leadership experience to the role, and has worked closely with the College during her time as executive director of nursing at NHS Improvement. She will be a powerful and passionate voice for nursing in England within the new NHS group.
‘Nursing staff will be at the heart of all plans to provide care fit for the 21st century and 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.’