The head of NHS England, Amanda Pritchard, has been awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Exeter for her efforts in improving health and ensuring high quality of care for all in England.

Amanda was appointed Chief Executive of the National Health Service (NHS) in August 2021 during the pandemic – a time of immense pressure on the system. Upon her appointment, she became the first ever female leader in the history of an organisation whose staff are more than three-quarters women.

In her role, Amanda is responsible for leading the work of the NHS nationally, to improve health and ensure high quality and safe care for over 55 million people in England. She is accountable to Parliament for more than 150 billion pounds of annual funding, and provides leadership and direction to a workforce of around a million and half people.

Amanda Pritchard talking ahead of receiving her honorary doctorate

Amanda’s most significant recent achievement is the publication of the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan. The Plan is the first in the 75-year history of the service; a once in a generation opportunity to build NHS resilience and excellence by training hundreds of thousands more staff over a 15-year period and promising 300,000 more NHS clinicians by 2036. The University of Exeter, as a high-quality higher education provider for medicine, nursing, diagnostic radiography, clinical psychology, healthcare science and other healthcare practice, has welcomed the plan and is committed to working with partners to support the delivery of its aims.

Prior to assuming leadership of NHS England, Amanda served as Chief Operating Officer for the NHS nationally for two years, following almost four years as CEO of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust in London. Amanda joined the NHS through its graduate management training scheme in 1997 and has held a variety of other NHS management positions, as well as spending time as health team leader in the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit during Tony Blair’s premiership.

Amanda said: “I am honoured to accept this honorary degree from the University of Exeter. It’s a privilege to be recognised by an institution that makes such a significant contribution to health and care in the South West and nationally, and I’m looking forward to contributing to what I know will be a special and memorable day for all those graduating.”

Professor Lisa Roberts, President and Vice-chancellor of the University of Exeter, said: “We are honoured to recognise Amanda for her incredible contribution to healthcare in England. Since taking the helm of the NHS during the pandemic, she’s shown incredible commitment to ensuring high quality care for the public.

“As the first woman in history to hold the post of NHS chief executive, Amanda is an inspiration. As we celebrate our graduates, we want them to show them that there’s no ceiling for their dreams.”