Former healthcare boss named interim No.10 perm sec

Samantha Jones led private healthcare provider before advising Boris Johnson on NHS reform
Photo: Downing Street

The prime minister has named former private health boss Samantha Jones as interim No.10 permanent secretary as part of his ongoing Downing Street shakeup.

Jones will spend six months as interim perm sec and chief operating officer for Downing Street, during which she will review structures and operations in No.10.

She spent three years as chief executive of Operose Health – a US-owned group that runs GP and other primary care surgeries and mental health services in this country – before becoming Boris Johnson’s adviser on NHS reform.

She was previously chief exec of two NHS trusts and director of new care models for NHS England.

No.10 said a recruitment competition to find a permanent candidate for the dual role of perm sec and COO would take place later.

The appointment comes after Johnson promised to overhaul the structure of No.10 following the publication of Sue Gray’s initial findings in her inquiry into potentially illegal gatherings in Downing Street.

Gray said the number of staff working in No.10 has increased to the extent that it had become comparable to a "small government department".

“Yet the structures that support the smooth operation of Downing Street have not evolved sufficiently to meet the demands of this expansion,” she said.

Her update on her inquiry – which was limited because of the Metropolitan Police’s announcement of its own criminal investigation shortly beforehand – also criticised “fragmented and complicated” leadership structures that she said had “sometimes led to the blurring of lines of accountability”.

In response, Johnson promised to set up a new prime minister’s department, led by a permanent secretary.

Announcing Jones’s appointment yesterday, the PM said: “I promised to make changes to my senior team so that we can get on with better delivering for the British people.

“That is what we are now doing by bringing in the very best skills and management experience with a clear vision to unite and level up our country.”

Jones has the “blend of skills and experience needed to take on the job”, cabinet secretary Simon Case said.

“Samantha’s experience of leading and managing transformation in the public and private sectors will be invaluable as we overhaul the structures which support the prime minister and cabinet.”

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