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NHSE to overhaul mental health leadership

Published on: 20 Feb 2024

NHS England is recruiting its first ever medical director for mental health and neurodiversity, while its national clinical director for mental health has left.

The changes will represent a major overhaul of national clinical leadership for the services.

Psychiatrist Professor Tim Kendall, NCD for mental health since 2016, left the role at the end of last year, and NHSE has not yet recruited a replacement.

Meanwhile, NHSE confirmed it was recruiting for a new role of medical director for mental health and neurodiversity, reporting to national medical director Sir Steve Powis.

The job advert for the new role says they will have a “pivotal role” in the medical directorate and also work closely with the NHSE chief operating officer’s team.

The advert says: ”NHS England is looking to this role to support continued transformation in services and improved outcomes for people with mental health needs.”

The post holder will provide clinical leadership on care quality, developing “future strategies beyond the NHS long-term plan”, and medical workforce transformation; and work with other directors to engage clinicians.

It comes as the five-year funding cycle of the 2019 NHS long-term plan – which substantially increased spending on some mental health services – comes to an end in April this year; rising demand and waits for many mental health and neurodiversity services; and close scrutiny of major failings in inpatient units.

The new role will report to Sir Steve, along with other national medical directors including Claire Fuller, for primary care, and Aidan Fowler for patient safety.

NHSE last month announced a new national clinical director for learning disabilities and autism, Kenneth Courtenay, a consultant psychiatrist in learning disability at Barnet Enfield and Haringey Mental Health Trust.

Dame Claire Murdoch, a mental health nurse and trust CEO, remains NHSE national director for mental health.