Hospital Dr News

Sir Bruce Keogh adds his name to a growing list of high profile departures

Professor Sir Bruce Keogh has announced he will be stepping down as NHS England’s national medical director at the end of 2017.

He will take up a new role as chair of Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Foundation Trust once his term at NHS England ends. The foundation trust was formed in February after a merger of Birmingham Children’s Hospital and Birmingham Women’s FTs.

In the wake of the Mid Staffs scandal, Sir Bruce Keogh’s review into hospitals with higher than expected mortality rates in 2013 led to the establishment of the current Care Quality Commission rating system and  special measures regime.

He has been NHS England’s national medical director since the body was formed in 2013. For five years prior to 2013, he was medical director of the NHS in England.

His tenure will be overshadowed by his controversial drive for the implementation of standard seven-day services in hospitals – without a commitment to additional resources – which resulted in a bitter industrial dispute with junior doctors.

Keogh was responsible for publishing an inflammatory report – much cited (and misquoted) by the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt – that suggested death rates in hospitals were higher at weekends due to lower standards of care.

It follows another high profile departure from NHS England, with Samantha Jones stepping down next month to spend more time with her children.

Jones was appointed by NHS England in January 2015 to lead the vanguard programme to set up and test five new models of care outlined in the Five Year Forward View.

The vanguard programme is in its final year, and will increasingly focus on supporting the rest of the country to implement new care models.

Louise Watson, currently deputy director for new care models, will take over as director.

New care models featured prominently in last week’s Next Steps on the NHS Five Year Forward View document.

These departures follow another big hitter departing the regulatory scene. In January Professor Sir Mike Richards, CQC’s Chief Inspector of Hospitals, announced he would be retiring in the summer.

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