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‘40 new hospitals’ chief to step down

Published on: 19 Feb 2024

The head of the 40 ‘new hospitals’ programme has announced she will be stepping down.

Natalie Forrest, a senior NHS leader and nurse, has led the new hospital programme on secondment since its creation in 2021.

The scheme is responsible for delivering 40 new hospital projects by the end of the decade. It has faced various delays, rising costs and programme resets since its inception, including a recent promise of a rolling capital programme beyond 2030.

The Department of Health and Social Care went out to recruitment for a new permanent senior responsible officer in late December. Ms Forrest has now announced she will not apply. 

In an email to staff seen by HSJ, she said: “Having given this careful thought I wanted to let you all now that I have decided not to apply for the role. 

“This was not an easy choice, but I have decided that once the programme business case has been approved, and the scope and funding for the programme is set, the programme will naturally move into a different mode.

“This makes it an obvious time to hand over to a new SRO, someone who will bring a different perspective for the coming years.”

She said she had “no plans to move quickly” and ensure there is a smooth transition to the new senior responsible officer. 

Her role sits within the DHSC, which sets the strategy for the NHPwhile a team within the NHS is responsible for its delivery.

Ms Forrest said in her email: “The last three years have been such a privilege, this is a wonderful programme that I know is going to deliver so much for so many people.”

“Working with all of you has been one of the highlights of my career and I cannot wait to see the team, and programme, go from strength to strength.”

Applications for the role, which was advertised at a salary of between £97,000 and £162,500 for external candidates, closed on 21 January 2024.