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Prime minister hires new health adviser

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A management consultant and former doctor is to become the prime minister’s adviser on health.

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James Kent’s appointment is expected to be announced imminently. Downing Street has been without a special political adviser for health since Theresa May took over in July.

Dr Kent was until recently a management consultant at Boston Consulting Group with a leading role in its work with the NHS, and has been in consultancy for more than 20 years. Before this he trained in medicine in Nottingham and worked as a junior doctor in the NHS for several years. He has co-authored several articles on health policy for LGC’s sister title Health Service Journal and elsewhere.

The relationship between 10 Downing Street and national NHS leaders has been the subject of concern in the sector since the previous prime minister and chancellor left office. They had made much of their commitment to the health service and had a strong relationship with NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens, as well as a well known health adviser, Nick Seddon.

The NHS has been less of a priority for Mrs May, although she is due to make a speech about mental health on Monday. She and her chancellor have repeatedly said the NHS has been given the funding settlement it requested for this Parliament, and pointedly declined calls for additional cash, amid extreme day-to-day financial and performance pressures.

Downing Street confirmed Dr Kent’s appointment as a special political adviser. He will be based in the policy unit.

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