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New Permanent Secretary for Department of Health

  • Published date:
    4 October 2010
Una O'Brien

The Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service, Sir Gus O'Donnell, is pleased to announce the appointment of Una O’Brien as the new Permanent Secretary at the Department of Health.

Una was chosen following a national open competition and is currently the Director General, Policy and Strategy, at the Department. It follows Sir Hugh Taylor’s retirement from the Department in July 2010. The appointment has been approved by the Prime Minister and by the Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley.

Una O’Brien will take up her post at the end of the month.

The Cabinet Secretary, Sir Gus O'Donnell, said:

"I am delighted that Una O’Brien has been appointed as the new Permanent Secretary at the Department of Health. She has considerable Whitehall and health service experience, which will be vital in helping the Department deliver on the reforms for the health and social care system, and leading the Department through the challenges ahead.

“I would also like to thank Richard Douglas, who has done a tremendous job leading the Department as Acting Permanent Secretary since Sir Hugh’s departure in July.”

Commenting on her new role, Una O’Brien said:

“I’m very proud to have been asked to lead a Department with such a fine record and great people. Health is an issue that touches the lives of every person in this country, and I look forward to playing my part in guiding the Department through the changes and challenges ahead.”

The Secretary for Health, Andrew Lansley MP, said:

"Una O’Brien’s knowledge of the NHS, her experience across Whitehall and her leadership in preparing the recent NHS White Paper make her the ideal candidate to take the Department of Health into a new era. I look forward to working with her."

Notes to Editors

Una O’Brien
Una first joined the Civil Service and the Department of Health (DH) in 1990. Since 2005 she has worked in the Policy and Strategy directorate, first as Director and since 2007 as Director General. Prior to that Una was the Director of Development and Quality at University College London, NHS Foundation Trust, a post she held from 2002–05. Other roles in the civil service include Deputy Director in the Prime Minister’s Efficiency Unit from 1996–98 and Secretary to the Bristol Inquiry from 1998–2001.

Una is currently a member of the NHS Management and DH Boards and sits on a range of Civil Service and external boards, which include the Civil Service Policy Profession Executive and the Ministry of Defence Audit Committee. She was also the Governor for the Jack Tizard School for Children with profound learning disabilities between 2004–09. Una was educated at the University of Oxford, Harvard University and the London School of Economics.


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