Department of Health director general of social care David Behan has been appointed chief executive of the Care Quality Commission.
Mr Behan will replace Cynthia Bower who has led the regulator since its creation four years ago, Nursing Times sister title Health Service Journal has revealed.
Mr Behan, who began his career as a social worker, previously headed up the Commission for Social Care Inspection, one of the CQC’s predecessor organisations. He joined the DH in 2006 and has been leading the development of plans for social care reform.
Formed from a merger between CSCI, the Healthcare Commission and the Mental Health Commission, the CQC has faced difficulties from day one.
Mounting criticism of the organisation’s leadership culminated in the publication of a critical DH performance and capability review earlier this year. It concluded non-executive and executive teams needed to be “strengthened” and coincided with Ms Bower’s resignation.
Mr Behan will face the challenge of increasing confidence in the regulator while overseeing the successful registration of around 10,000 GP practices by next April, a task described as a “major challenge” for the CQC by the Public Accounts Committee.
He will also have to lead the CQC’s response to Robert Francis’s report into the part the regulatory and supervisory system played in care failures at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust which is due for publication later this year.
Mr Behan has further developed his reputation as an effective operator in the director general’s role. He has worked closely alongside NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson who was appointed at the same time. Mr Behan has been included in the top twenty of the HSJ 100 list of the most powerful people in health policy for the last five years, rising to ninth place last year.