Exclusive: NHS England appoints new medical director

Professor Steve Powis, the current medical director of the Royal Free Foundation Trust, has been appointed to replace Sir Bruce Keogh at NHS England, HSJ understands.

He is a professor at renal medicine at University College London, and has worked at Royal Free for 20 years, initially as a consultant.

His appointment has been confirmed by NHS England today.


Professor Powis has been the trust’s medical director for over a decade. Over the past two years the Royal Free has been developing a hospital group model, taking direct control of some neighbouring hospitals in north London and working closely with others to introduce standardised best practice pathways across several sites.

Royal Free is also part of UCLPartners academic health science network, along with University College London Hospitals Foundation Trust, and through this Professor Powis has been involved in running NHS England’s NHS Innovation Accelerator programme in recent years.

At Royal Free he has been involved in pioneering and controversial work with Google DeepMind on applying its machine learning expertise to improving care.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said: ”“We are delighted to appoint Steve Powis as the new medical director for NHS England. “He brings first hand experience of frontline care as well as a practical track record of driving major innovation and service improvement.”

Professor Powis said: ”I am incredibly proud of my 12 years as Royal Free London medical director, a period in which the organisation has gone from strength to strength. I am confident the trust’s hugely dedicated staff will continue to achieve great things, under the guidance of its outstanding leadership team.

“I feel tremendously privileged to be taking on the role of NHS England national medical director, providing a clear clinical voice and vision for the NHS and working with the medical profession to achieve that. I am particularly humbled to be taking over from Sir Bruce Keogh who has done so much to put quality at the heart of all we do. My task is to ensure we remain relentlessly focussed on health improvement and achieving the best possible outcomes for our patients.”

Sir Bruce said: “It has been an honour to serve as national medical director for the past decade. Having worked with Stephen, I know he will be a standard bearer for clinical excellence, professionalism and patient centred care.”

According to the Royal Free’s website, Professor Powis is the chair of the Association of UK Universities medical directors group, and a governing body member of Merton Clinical Commissioning Group.

He has also previously been a non-executive director and acting chair of North Middlesex University Hospital Trust – which is now part of the Royal Free group.

Professor Powis has also previously held board positions at the Joint Royal Colleges of Physicians Training Board, and Medical Education England.

He was director of postgraduate medical and dental education for UCLPartners academic health science partnership.

Sir Bruce’s departure was announced in April - he has served as the national NHS medical directoro for a decade, having taken on the post at NHS England at its inception. and previously been in the Department of Health.

After he leaves NHS England, Sir Bruce will become chair of Birmingham Women’s and Children’s FT.

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