The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has called on the new chief executive of NHS England, Amanda Pritchard, to invest in pharmacy and ensure staff get the support they need.  

Ms Pritchard, who is currently NHS England's chief operating officer, is set to replace Sir Simon Stevens as the chief executive of NHS England at the end of this week. 

Commenting on the appointment, Thorrun Govind, chair of RPS England, urged Ms Pritchard to make sure pharmacy staff get ‘the support they need’ amid the ongoing and upcoming NHS reforms.  

‘A key challenge for the NHS will be implementing new Integrated Care Systems and this must include a focus on medicines optimisation across care settings,’ she said.  

‘I’d urge NHS England to ensure a voice for pharmacy to help make these changes a success.’  

Ms Govind also called on Ms Pritchard to invest in the pharmacy sector. 

‘Delivering integrated health and care services throughout England will also depend on investment in our workforce and a long-overdue upgrade to health and care records,’ she said. 

‘I look forward to working with Amanda and the NHS leadership on how pharmacists’ clinical expertise can support the NHS recovery, improve medicines safety, and deliver high-quality patient care for the future,’ she added. 

Ms Pritchard, who has been chief operating officer of NHSE and chief executive of NHS Improvement since 2019, was appointed yesterday (28 July) as Sir Stevens’ successor by the NHSE board. 

Having joined the NHS in 1997 through the management training scheme, Ms Pritchard has held a variety of positions in the health services, including seven years as head of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. 

She also served as health team leader in the Cabinet Office’s delivery unit under Tony Blair. 

Ms Pritchard said: ‘There are big challenges ahead as NHS staff continue to deal with significant pressures while maintaining the roll-out of the hugely successful NHS vaccination programme and tackle backlogs that have inevitably built up in the face of rising Covid infections. 

‘However the skill, determination and ‘can do’ spirit that NHS staff have shown in the face of the greatest challenge in the health service’s history means we face the future with confidence.’ 

Lord David Prior, chair of the board, said Ms Pritchard ‘could have had no better preparation for the role than serving as the NHS’ chief operating officer during the greatest health emergency in its history’. 

Sir Stevens first announced in April that he would step down from the post he has held since 2014. 

At the time, NHSE’s board has said it aimed to find a replacement by 31 July, which is still set to be his last day in the job. 

The new appointment was made jointly by the NHSE board and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), but with input from 10 Downing Street. 

A version of this story first appeared on our sister website, Heathcare Leader.