Regional director is named as NHS chief

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The man charged with implementing Labour's vision for the NHS was named yesterday as Nigel Crisp, a 48-year-old former community worker in Liverpool.

The man charged with implementing Labour's vision for the NHS was named yesterday as Nigel Crisp, a 48-year-old former community worker in Liverpool.

Mr Crisp, a Cambridge graduate, will take up one of the most onerous posts in Whitehall next month, combining the jobs of chief executive of the NHS and permanent secretary at the health department. He was previously London regional director of the NHS.

The job is one of the highest paid in government, but the salary - believed to be between £120,000 and £150,000 - was judged too low by headhunters brought in to fill it.

Ministers are thought to have wanted a figure from private industry with a higher profile to fill the post. A similar job in the private sector would attract at least twice as much.

Last night, a Downing Street spokesman said Mr Crisp's salary was "still being negotiated". Mr Crisp takes over from Sir Alan Langlands, who unexpectedly resigned earlier this year. Sir Alan signed a new three-year contract last year, but changed his mind a few months later, apparently out of frustration at ministerial interference.

He left in July to become vice-chancellor of Dundee University. The previous permanent secretary, Chris Kelly, is also leaving.

The success of the NHS plan, backed by a one-third increase in funding in real terms over the next four years, could determine Labour's standing in the eyes of the electorate. Tony Blair has staked his future on the outcome.

Alan Milburn, the Health Secretary, who attended the first meeting of the NHS Modernisation Board with Mr Crisp yesterday, said: "He will be a superb manager, having worked in both the public and private sectors and in urban and rural areas."

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