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Malcolm Grant nominated as NHS reform chief

The provost of University College London, Malcolm Grant, has been appointed as head of the NHS Commissioning Board, which will oversee changes within the health service.

Health secretary Andrew Lansley announced Grant’s his nomination on 14 October.

UCL says the role is expected to take up to two days a week of Grant’s time, and he will continue in his post as head of the university.

“The roles are hugely complementary,” said Grant in a statement. “I have worked very closely with the NHS over recent years as we have built UCL’s biomedical research activity through partnerships with key NHS trusts and have a record of delivering research that translates into health benefits.”

“The future success of the NHS is not only vital for the health of the nation, but important too for the future growth of UCL,” he added.

According to the Department of Health, the role includes providing “strategic leadership and vision for NHS commissioning”.

The independent board will be required to commission some services, as well as hold to account individual clinical commissioning groups, allocate and account for NHS resources, and reduce inequality in access to healthcare.

UCL vice-provost for health and incoming president of the Academy of Medical Sciences, John Tooke, said Grant was “superbly equipped” to take on the position.

“Given the central importance of research and education to the NHS and patient-centred, evidence-based care, his academic background coupled with an acute awareness of the issues facing the NHS will be invaluable,” he said.

Grant will appear in front of the Health Select Committee in a pre-appointment scrutiny hearing on 18 October and is expected to take up the role by the end of this month.

Originally a barrister and environmental lawyer, Grant worked for many years as an academic and served in a variety of public appointments, including as a member of the Higher Education Funding Council for England and chairman of the Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission.

As provost of UCL, Grant was also instrumental in founding the £600 million research centre the Francis Crick Institute, formerly the UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation.