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Ruth May

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Chief nursing officer for England

ruth may

ruth may

Ruth became chief nursing officer for England in January 2019.

In a break with the previous national nursing leadership structure, she works across both NHS England and NHS Improvement. The CNO is part of a new joint leadership team called the NHS Executive Group.

Prior to being appointed CNO, Ruth was executive director of nursing at NHS Improvement from April 2016, following her role as director of nursing at Monitor, the former healthcare sector regulator.

At the same time, she was also deputy chief nursing officer for England and national director for infection prevention and control.

Before joining Monitor, she was regional chief nurse and nurse director for the Midlands and East region of NHS England, where she championed the ‘Stop the Pressure’ campaign.

The campaign is credited with nearly halving the number of pressure ulcers in the region, improving care for patients, as well as delivering cost savings to the NHS.

Ruth is passionate about nurturing the next generation of NHS nursing, midwifery and AHP leaders, encouraging professional development opportunities and working across the health system to put the optimal cultural conditions in place for all NHS employees to thrive.

This includes advocating for improved mental health awareness in the workplace and being a vocal supporter of the WRES agenda and increased diversity across the NHS.

Ruth began her career with a variety of nursing roles before becoming a theatre sister at Frimley Park Hospital. She was acting director of nursing at Barnet Hospital before being appointed the substantive director of nursing and deputy chief executive with Havering Primary Care Trust.

In October 2005, she became chief executive of The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King’s Lynn, a post she held for two years. She has also been chief executive of Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust.


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