David Prior has stepped down as chair of the Care Quality Commission to become a health minister in the new Conservative government.
Mr Prior, who was a Conservative MP until 2001 and is a former chief executive of the party, has been made parliamentary under secretary of state at the Department of Health with immediate effect.
He will be made a peer to take up the role, and will replace Lord Howe at the DH, who it was announced yesterday would move to the Ministry of Defence.
The health secretary will appoint Mr Prior’s replacement. The CQC said the search for the new chair would begin immediately.
“David’s experience and insight will be a fantastic addition to the ministerial team”
Mr Prior became CQC chair in January 2013 following a stint as chair of Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust between 2002 and 2013.
Together with chief executive David Behan, he has been responsible for guiding the CQC through a period of significant change in the wake of the Francis report, which found that regulatory failings contributed to poor care at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust.
Mr Prior said he was “enormously excited” about his appointment. “However, it is a bitter sweet moment for me because I have loved working at CQC for the last two and a half years,” he added.
“It has been a great privilege to work with so many talented staff who are committed to improving the lives of people who use health and care services.
“I believe that the new regulatory model we have developed will not just identify poor care, but also stimulate and encourage services to improve.
Mr Behan said: “David’s experience and insight will be a fantastic addition to the ministerial team. The news of his appointment is, however, tinged with sadness as it means that we will be losing a fantastic chair.”
Two other new health ministers have also been appointed, Ben Gummer and Alistair Burt. They replace Dr Dan Poulter and Norman Lamb, respectively.