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Dame Ruth May announces retirement

Published on: 16 Apr 2024

Dame Ruth May is retiring as chief nursing officer for England later this year, it has been announced.

Dame Ruth has served in the role since January 2019, succeeding Jane Cummings, and is also the national director for infection prevention and control.

She was regional chief nurse and nurse director for NHS England’s Midlands and East region before becoming director of nursing at Monitor.

Dame Ruth has been in the NHS for nearly 40 years and began her nursing training in 1985. She became a theatre sister at Frimley Park Hospital before becoming chief executive of the hospital trust.

In a message to staff today, NHSE chief executive Amanda Pritchard said: “Throughout her career, Ruth has worked tirelessly to nurture the next generations of NHS nursing and midwifery leaders and to support nurses, nursing associates, midwives and healthcare support staff to do their very best for their patients and families.

“This was never more important, and more visible, than during the pandemic, when Ruth led the nursing and midwifery professions’ response, for which I am enormously grateful. But Ruth has also worked effectively behind the scenes to secure real improvements for staff and patients, such as dedicated funding for CPD, the reinstatement of maintenance grants for learners, and delivering the 50k Nurses programme.

“Among other notable successes, Ruth’s championing of the ‘Stop the Pressure’ campaign in the Midlands and East nearly halved the number of pressure ulcers in the region, and went on to be a national success, improving care and outcomes for thousands of patients.”

Ms Pritchard added: “I will personally miss Ruth’s dedication and commitment to the NHS, to the professions she leads, and to our patients, which comes across so strongly in everything she does.

“Ruth leaves big shoes to fill, but I am grateful that she will stay with us for a while yet as we start the search for our next CNO, giving us all plenty of time to say our personal thanks and goodbyes.”