Natalie Forrest appointed to oversee new hospital programme

Natalie Forrest has been named as the NHS boss appointed to oversee the construction of over 40 new hospitals.

Forrest is a registered nurse who has worked within the NHS for 30 years, with 12 years spent working in senior leadership roles. She previously served as chief executive of Chase Farm Hospital in London. Alongside this role, she was also part of NHS Nightingale London’s management team and helped transform the Excel Conference Centre into a Nightingale Hospital. 

The development comes as part of the government’s £3.7bn plan to build 48 new hospitals across the UK by 2030. The New Hospital Programme is to be the largest hospital building programme in a generation. From January 2021, Forrest will oversee a delivery board across the Department of Health and Social Care, and across NHS England and Improvement. Additionally, 20 existing hospitals are expected to receive a share of £850 million to upgrade outdated facilities and equipment.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock stated, “The New Hospital Programme – as part of our Health Infrastructure Plan – will transform the delivery of NHS healthcare infrastructure to build back better and will ensure our country has world-class healthcare facilities right across the country for decades to come.”

Development is already underway in some hospitals, with proposals being approved. Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust is currently set to upgrade its mental health and learning disability services. The Salford Royal is due to start work on a new hospital that will include a major trauma centre.

In a statement, Forrest said, “I am determined to build trust in our national capability in planning and delivering hospitals, not just with health and construction stakeholders but with the staff and patients who will benefit from them on a daily basis.

“My goal will be to deliver these new hospitals cost-effectively and at speed, and to foster an ecosystem that owns, learns from and improves healthcare design.”