Tory peer Dido Harding applies to become next head of NHS

Baroness Dido Harding leaving Downing Street, London

Baroness Dido Harding leaving Downing Street, London - Credit: PA

Baroness Dido Harding has applied to become the next head of the NHS.

The Tory peer has stood aside from her position as chair of NHS Improvement, which she took up in October 2017, while recruitment is underway, according to a biography on the NHS England website.

She served as executive chair of the government’s coronavirus Test and Trace programme until April this year.

The scheme has come in for criticism over the course of the pandemic, with a report from the Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in March saying there was “no clear evidence” the £22 billion venture contributed to a reduction in coronavirus infection levels.

The updated biography on the NHS England website states: “Dido has applied to become the next CEO of the NHS and has therefore stood aside as Chair of NHS Improvement whilst the recruitment process takes place. Sir Andrew Morris is standing in for her during this time.”

NHS England announced in April that current NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens was to stand down “as planned” at the end of July.

According to the NHS England annual report for 2019/20, the chief executive salary was between £195,000 and £200,000.

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The report stated that Sir Simon had, during that year, voluntarily taken a £20,000 per annum pay cut for the sixth year in a row.

Among her previous jobs, Baroness Harding was chief executive of TalkTalk for seven years until 2017, and before that worked in senior roles for both Sainsbury’s and Tesco.

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