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BMJ 2006; 333 doi: (Published 17 August 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:370
  1. Mark Gould
  1. London

    Mark Gould takes a look at the new chief executive of the NHS, David Nicholson

    An almost palpable sigh of relief went up last month as it was announced that David Nicholson, a man who has worked for the NHS for 25 years, is to take over as its new chief executive in September.

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    The appointment from within the service was welcomed by organisations across the public sector—from the BMA to trade unions—as a symbolic act of “protecting” the NHS and its ethos from wholesale privatisation.

    Nicholson, a chunky 50 year old with the lived-in look of a retired rugby forward, was the only NHS candidate on the shortlist for what could be considered one of the most daunting jobs in the world. The Department of Health's press release announcing his appointment states that the post now requires management of 1.3 million staff and an annual budget of £90bn (€133bn; $170bn).

    No wonder people were relieved. His rivals for the job included John Rowe, executive chairman of Aetna, one of the largest US health insurers; Ken Kizer, former chief executive of the Veterans Administration, the largest tax funded healthcare provider in the United States; and Ian Smith, chief executive of General Healthcare, Britain's biggest private …

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