Government seeks £150k lead for '40 new hospitals' programme

Published on: 4 Jan 2024

The government is advertising for a top civil servant to permanently lead its “new hospitals” building programme, leaving it unclear whether the current director will remain in place. 

The Department of Health and Social Care is advertising for a senior responsible owner for its “new hospital programme”, which includes 40 redevelopments promised for completion by the end of the decade, and has also proposed a longer-term “rolling” capital programme.

The position has been held by Natalie Forrest, a senior NHS leader and trained nurse, since 2021.

HSJ understands the role was always planned to be subject to substantive recruitment, with Ms Forrest currently on secondment from the NHS. It is unclear whether she is planning to apply for or take up the substantive post.

Ms Forrest has previously served as chief operating officer for the London Nightingale hospital during the pandemic and chief executive of Chase Farm Hospital.

The New Hospital Programme was set up to deliver the Conservatives’ 2019 manifesto pledge to build “40 new hospitals” by 2030. But the ambitious scheme has faced delays and rising costs since its inception as well as various programme resets, including the addition of five hospitals with unsafe concrete this year. It has also transpired that many of the schemes are not full rebuilds.

The senior responsible owner role is advertised at a salary of between £97,000 and £162,500 for external candidates, with applications closing on 21 January.

A DHSC spokesman said: “All senior posts are advertised to ensure fair, unbiased appointments of suitable experienced and qualified personnel. It would not be appropriate to comment further on an ongoing recruitment exercise.”