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NHS England appoints chief workforce officer to lead expanded department

Published on: 29 Jun 2022

NHS England has appointed a new chief officer for its people directorate, following the departure of Prerana Issar earlier this year, HSJ has learned.

It is understood Navina Evans will perform the role in tandem with her existing job as chief executive of Health Education England until April 2023, when HEE is due to be merged into NHSE.

Dr Evans is then expected to oversee a merged workforce and people directorate, along with education and training and become the chief workforce, training and education officer.

NHSE’s people directorate recently reported the worst staff survey results across NHSE, after coming bottom in seven out of nine key measures; staff engagement, morale, compassion and inclusivity, recognition and reward, staff voice, wellbeing, and team working.

Ms Issar, the former chief people officer, departed earlier this year due to an “ongoing covid-related illness”.

Dr Evans’ new title is chief workforce officer, but she is a direct replacement for Ms Issar. She will lead on workforce supply and demand, and aligning the strategy with the NHS’ operating model.

A psychiatrist by training, she has been chief executive of HEE since October 2020, after leading the “outstanding” rated East London Foundation Trust for four years.

Em Wilkinson-Brice, who has led the people directorate on an interim basis over the last few months, will take on a new role of national director of people from July. She will be responsible for the implementation of the People Plan, the recommendations of the Messenger review and staff wellbeing, and will report to Dr Evans.

A memo sent from NHSE chief executive Amanda Pritchard to staff this morning also confirmed the internal HR and OD functions of the new NHS England will, with effect from July 2022, move to the chief delivery officer directorate.

Ms Pritchard said: “I know that news of changes can be unsettling for people, but I am confident that Navina and Em’s continued leadership in bringing together the workforce functions will ensure that we are able to deliver as seamlessly and effectively as possible for all of our people and patients alike.”

HSJ revealed at the end of last year that HEE would be incorporated into NHSE by April 2023, with sources suggesting the funding settlement it was arguing for was considered unaffordable by the Treasury, leading to the end of the independent education and training body.