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Stephen Powis

Professor Sir Stephen Powis

National Medical Director, NHS England

Stephen Powis is the National Medical Director of NHS England, a position he has held since January 2018. In this role he is the most senior doctor within the National Health Service in England. In August 2021 he was also appointed Interim Chief Executive of NHS Improvement.

His senior management team includes England’s Chief Pharmaceutical Officer, Chief Dental Officer, Chief Scientific Officer and Chief Allied Health Professions Officer as well as the NHS National Director of Patient Safety, the Medical Director of Primary Care, the Medical Director for Clinical Effectiveness and Professional Leadership & Medical Director for Secondary Care and Transformation. As National Medical Director, he is the highest level Responsible Officer within England. His medical directorate is also responsible for commissioning the national clinical audit programme, developing professional standards for doctors throughout England and developing clinical policy for the NHS.

Sir Stephen is executive lead for the NHS national cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, stroke and prevention programmes. He is also the senior responsible officer in England for the human health workstream of the UK government’s antimicrobial resistance strategy. He co-chairs the National Quality Board with the Chief Inspector of Hospitals. As National Medical Director of NHS England he works closely with colleagues at NIHR and NICE to ensure that research and guideline priorities are aligned with the needs of the NHS.

At the request of the Prime Minister, he has undertaken a review of the core publicly reported English NHS clinical access standards. At the request of the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care he has, with the Chief Pharmaceutical Officer, reviewed the barriers to access of cannabis derived medicinal products. He is currently leading a review of organ utilisation in English transplant services, again at the request of the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.

Prior to his current role Sir Stephen held the Moorhead Chair of Renal Medicine at University College London from 1997 to 2017. His research interests included the human major histocompatibility system, transplant biology and the genetics of membranous nephropathy. Upon leaving UCL he became an honorary professor.

Sir Stephen was Medical Director (and latterly Group Chief Medical Officer) of the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust from 2006 to 2018. He was also a member of the governing body of Merton Clinical Commissioning Group for five years and a Director of Healthcare Services Laboratories LLP. He is a past Chairman of the Association of UK Universities (AUKUH) Medical Directors Group and has been a member of numerous national committees and working groups, including the Department of Health Strategic Education Funding Expert Group. He is a past non-executive director of the North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust, including a period of eight months as acting chairman.

He is a past chairman of the Joint Royal Colleges of Physicians Training Board (JRCPTB) Specialty Advisory Committee (SAC) for Renal Medicine and a former board member of Medical Education England. He was Director of Postgraduate Medical and Dental Education for UCLPartners from 2010 to 2013. He is a past treasurer and trustee of the British Transplantation Society and a former member of the UK Transplant Kidney Pancreas Advisory Group. He has also served as a member of the Renal Association Executive Committee. He was Editor of the journal Nephron Clinical Practice from 2003 to 2008. In 2017 he became the inaugural Editor-in-Chief of the journal BMJ Leader. He has been a trustee of several charities, including the Royal Free Charity and the Healthcare Management Trust.

Sir Stephen has played a key role in the NHS response to the covid-19 pandemic. He has been a member of the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE) since February 2020 and has advised senior ministers within HM Government throughout the pandemic. He is the NHS England national director responsible for the deployment of covid antiviral therapeutics. He has appeared at over thirty live Downing Street press briefings.

Sir Stephen was knighted in the 2022 Queen’s Birthday Honours List for services to the NHS, particularly during covid-19.

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