Amanda Pritchard will be Chief Executive Officer of NHS England from Sunday, August 1, a role which will see her responsible for an annual budget of more than £130 billion.
Her roots are here in the North East where she attended Durham Johnston Comprehensive School before studying Modern History at St Anne’s College, Oxford.
Her father is John Pritchard, who served as the Bishop of Jarrow from from 2002 to 2007.
She began her NHS career as a graduate management trainee in 1997 and has held a variety of management positions.
The married mum-of-three said she was honoured to lead the service, whose staff are more than three quarters female.
She added: “I have always been incredibly proud to work in the health service but never more so than over the last 18 months as nurses, doctors, therapists, paramedics, pharmacists, porters, cleaners and other staff have responded so magnificently to the Covid pandemic.
“There are big challenges ahead as NHS staff continue to deal with significant pressures while maintaining the roll-out of the hugely successful NHS vaccination programme and tackle backlogs that have inevitably built up in the face of rising Covid infections.
“However the skill, determination and ‘can do’ spirit that NHS staff have shown in the face of the greatest challenge in the health service’s history means we face the future with confidence.”
Amanda takes up the role after serving as the NHS’ Chief Operating Officer (COO) for two years and takes over form Simon Stevens.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was delighted to welcome the first woman into the job and added: “This is a critical moment for the NHS as it continues to care for Covid patients whilst tackling treatment backlogs caused by the pandemic.
“Amanda’s experience and expertise mean she is perfectly placed to address these issues and more, and I look forward to working closely with her.”
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Amanda brings an unparalleled wealth and depth of experience, having worked in the NHS for nearly 25 years, and at this crucial moment for our country frontline staff will value her operational experience and steady hand.”