Nuffield Trust response to the departure of Sir Simon Stevens as NHS England Chief Executive

Nigel Edwards responds to the departure of Sir Simon Stevens as Chief Executive of NHS England.

Press release

Published: 29/04/2021

Responding to the departure of Sir Simon Stevens as Chief Executive of NHS England, Nuffield Trust Chief Executive Nigel Edwards said:

"Simon has been an excellent leader for the NHS in England, and we have been fortunate to have him at the helm during Covid-19. His management of the service, and the heroic efforts of staff, enabled it to cope in the face of two of Europe’s worst outbreaks, and to be ready afterwards to roll out vaccines at astonishing speed and efficiency.

"Through a difficult period of pressures and an all-consuming national pandemic, he has steadily advanced a strategic vision and longer term reforms. The historic shift he began towards cooperation across health and social care has set the direction of travel for decades to come.

"The next Chief Executive will face a very difficult set of circumstances. The backlog of cancelled operations and procedures means people will be waiting for care longer than they should well into the future, and staff have been pushed to the brink. The NHS has been coping with too few staff, too little investment, and buildings in disrepair for too long. 

"One of Simon’s great successes has been to establish NHS England as an independent body, able to run and to improve the health service while politicians step back from micro-management. This experiment has been broadly a success, and we cannot afford for the next leader to be hobbled by a Whitehall power grab.

"On a personal note, I would like to express how helpful Simon has been in supporting so many of our projects and showing willingness to support independent study and expertise. Before his role as Chief Executive he served as an excellent trustee on our board. I wish him all the best in whatever roles and challenges he seeks out next."

Notes to editors

  • The Nuffield Trust is an independent health think tank. We aim to improve the quality of health care in the UK by providing evidence-based research and policy analysis and informing and generating debate.
  • For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Simon Keen (07780 475 571 / or Meesha Patel (07920 043676 /