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King’s College London’s expert Professor appointed to NHS England Board of Directors

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NHS England (NHSE) has appointed Professor Sir Simon Wessely as non-executive director to the NHSE board, along with Baroness Mary Watkins and Professor Sir Mark Walport. They are the first clinicians appointed as non-executives in several years and will take position from 27 January 2023. They are renowned leaders in their respective fields of mental health, nursing and life sciences.

I am very grateful to everyone who has sent me their congratulations on this appointment. There is no doubt that this position is a real challenge at any time, but never more so than now. I will do the best I can to remain true to the fundamental principles and values of the NHS.
– Professor Sir Simon Wessely FRS, Regius Professor of Psychiatry, King’s College London
Professor Sir Simon Wessely is Regius Professor of Psychiatry at King’s College London and has worked as a clinical psychiatrist, specialising in general hospital psychiatry, for the past 35 years. He has held a number of leadership roles and was President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists prior to being the first psychiatrist to be elected President of the Royal Society of Medicine. In 2021 he became a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS). His is the first ever Regius Chair to be appointed at King’s, and the first Regius Chair of Psychiatry in this country.

He established the King’s Centre for Military Health Research in 1996, and remains the Co-director, and since 2013 has been the Director of the PHE NIHR Health Protection Unit for Emergency Response and Preparedness, which has been very active during the COVID-19 crisis. Between 2017-19 he led the Independent Review of the Mental Health Act, which paved the way for new legislation in 2022.

Baroness Watkins is an international expert in nursing and healthcare delivery. She is Visiting Professor in the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery and Palliative Care, King’s College London.

The new non-executive directors will bring a wealth of clinical expertise and experience to NHSE which now oversees and commissions clinical education and training as well as NHS Digital. NHS England chief executive Amanda Pritchard said:

As we deal with record demand for our services, continue to make progress on recovery following the pandemic, and strive to transform care for the future, I know their extensive clinical knowledge, skills and experience will help us improve services for patients across the country, and I look forward to working with them over the coming month
– Amanda Pritchard, NHS England Chief Executive