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Una O'Brien CB



Una O’Brien CB was appointed Permanent Secretary at the Department of Health in 2010.

She was previously the Department of Health’s Director General of Policy and Strategy, and prior to that the Department’s Director of Provider Reform Policy.

Una has 20 years’ experience of health policy and leading and managing change in health services. In the 1980s, she helped establish London Lighthouse, a pioneering third sector provider of services for people with HIV and AIDS.

Between 1998 and 2001, Una was Secretary to the Bristol/Kennedy Inquiry, the largest public inquiry to date into the NHS. She has also been Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Health and to the Secretary of State for Transport.

Una completed a 3-year secondment as Director of Development and Clinical Governance at University College London NHS Foundation Trust in 2005.

Permanent Secretary

The Permanent Secretary leads the day-to-day running of the department and heads the department’s senior team.

Along with other members of the departmental board, the Permanent Secretary is responsible for:

  • advising ministers on strategy and objectives for the health and social care system
  • setting standards within the department
  • making arrangements for governance, assurance and risk management
  • overseeing the department’s performance and assuring the performance of sponsored organisations
  • approving the department’s business plan, resource accounts, departmental report and major spending