The chief executive of a prominent integrated London mental health provider has been appointed as the new NHS national mental health director.
Claire Murdoch is chief executive of Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust and also a registered mental health nurse.
“I can’t remember a time of either greater challenge or opportunity”
In her new national role, she will help to implement recommendations from a recent major report on improving mental health services.
NHS England’s independent mental health taskforce, chaired by Mind chief executive Paul Farmer, published its report earlier this year.
It criticised the NHS for its “inadequate” mental health services, despite a range of government initiatives to try and improve them in recent years and laid out 58 recommendations for improvements by 2020.
Ms Murdoch’s trust is one of the largest integrated community and mental health trusts in the country, with services that provide physical, palliative, mental health, learning disability, sexual health and prison care.
She will undertake her new national role on secondment from Central and North West London, where she will remain chief executive.
Ms Murdoch said: “There’s an important vision set out in the taskforce report and I look forward to working with Paul Farmer and others on implementation.
Referring to the chief executive of NHS England, she added: “I have seen great commitment from Simon Stevens for better mental health, so this is the right time to work with him and my first-class colleagues at NHS England to deliver improvements.
“I have lived through one revolution in mental health care, when the old asylums closed and have been privileged to be part of many advances since that time,” Ms Murdoch noted
“It’s now time to press ahead with the next generation of improvement. I can’t remember a time of either greater challenge or opportunity. This is both a little daunting and very exciting,” she said.
Mr Stevens said: “Having now developed clear and widely supported strategies for improving mental health, cancer, learning disabilities and other key services, in 2016-17 NHS England’s focus is now shifting to their practical implementation and delivery.
“Claire’s appointment – as one of the most respected and seasoned operational leaders in mental health – creates exactly the right energy and drive to kick start this process.”
Ms Murdoch is also a director of Imperial Academic Health Science Partnership, a non-executive director at the north-west London branch of Health Education England, and chair of the Cavendish Square Group, which brings together the 10 London mental health providers.