Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has confirmed the appointment of a former chief executive of the Conservative Party as the new chair of the Care Quality Commission after Parliament endorsed the move.
David Prior, an ex-Conservative MP who is currently chairman of Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals Foundation Trust, will take up post as CQC chair from 28 January 2013.
The four-year appointment will see Prior receive £63,000 a year in return for a time commitment of 2-3 days per week. He will step down from his hospital trust chair role after taking up the CQC post.
In late November Hunt announced that Prior was the government’s “preferred candidate” for the CQC chair role pending parliamentary approval. Today the Department of Health confirmed that parliament had agreed the move.
Announcing the appointment, Hunt said: “David brings a wealth of experience to this significant position, as the chair of a foundation trust, a large comprehensive school, and experience in the private sector.
“David will lead the CQC at an exciting time, where we need to relentlessly drive up quality in all services.”
Prior said he was “delighted” to be appointed and stressed he did not “underestimate the scale of the challenge” facing the CQC.
“I look forward to working with the chief executive, David Behan, and the whole of the organisation, to ensure the CQC is absolutely clear to the general public about the quality of services it inspects – when services are good and when they are not,” said Prior.
Prior will take over from current CQC chair Jo Williams who announced her resignation in September this year after three years at the helm, in which her leadership of CQC faced repeated criticisms.
David Behan, chief executive of the CQC, said Prior would play “a pivotal role” in working with the regulator’s stakeholders.
“I would like to thank Dame Jo Williams for all her hard work over the last few years in getting CQC to this important point in its development,” Behan added.
The Department of Health previously stated that Prior had served in “a number of political roles” between 1995 and 2002.
These include a stint as deputy chairman and chief executive of the Conservative Party. In 1997 Prior was elected as MP for North Norfolk, but in the 2001 election he was unseated by Liberal Democrat Norman Lamb – who currently serves as social care minister for the coalition government.
Prior has also served as chair “of a wide range of private companies,” the DoH said.Andy McNicoll is Community Care’s community editor