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Trust CEO appointed NHSE’s covid vaccine lead

Published on: 17 Feb 2022

A foundation trust CEO will lead NHS England’s covid vaccine and flu programme from the end of this month.

Steve Russell, who has been Harrogate and District FT chief executive since April 2019, will take over from Emily Lawson.

Mr Russell was also the chief executive of the NHS’s nightingale hospital in Yorkshire and Humber, and leads work in the West Yorkshire Association of Acute Trusts. He is the senior responsible officer for people in Humber, Coast and Vale Integrated Care System as well.

He will join on secondment in a full-time role, so an acting CEO is expected to be appointed for HDFT.

Mr Russell said: “I am hugely excited to be joining the NHS covid-19 and flu vaccinations teams — in December, we saw again how the NHS both locally and nationally came together in only a way that it can to protect the country from the new threat from the Omicron variant.

“Under Emily’s leadership, the NHS delivered boosters at record speed, and I am very much looking forward to building on that success, delivering the next steps on the world-leading programme and at a critically important time.”

Ms Lawson rejoined NHSE’s vaccination programme last October while on a full-time secondment from Downing Street. Before joining Number 10, where she became director of a new “delivery unit”, she was NHSE’s chief commercial officer and ran the covid vaccination programme from its launch in winter 2020. It is now unclear whether she plans to return to Number 10 or not — the prime minister reorganised roles in recent weeks, including appointing Samantha Jones as interim permanent secretary of a new Office of the Prime Minister.

She said: “It has been an honour and privilege to lead the NHS vaccination programme which has saved thousands and thousands of lives — all thanks to the huge efforts of NHS staff and volunteers.”