Former National Health Service chief executive Sir Nigel Crisp has voiced support for prising the health service away from the Department of Health, leaving it to run as a stand-alone organisation without political interference.

While many believe such a move could benefit both the NHS and the DH, writing in the British Medical Journal Sir Nigel said he believes it is actually the latter that would have most to gain from a separation.

Drawing on his experience “as the only person ever to have been both permanent secretary of the department and chief executive of the NHS”, he claims a split would, for the first time, leave the DH and politicians “free to concentrate on the wider issues of health rather than running the NHS”.

These issues, he said, touch on areas such as stem cell research, water fluoridation, healthcare equality and assisted death, and are “political in the sense of being about the sort of society we want”.

Sir Nigel claims the roles of the two bodies are too close for complete separation, but insists that “the time is ripe for a new settlement between the department and the NHS that respects the distinct roles and capabilities of each partner".

His comments will likely be taken as being supportive Tory health reforms centred on the creation of an independent NHS Board, which will, as the party explains, “take responsibility for dividing up NHS funds between different parts of the country away from Ministerial meddling”.

The British Medical Association has long voiced its support for giving the NHS more independence from political parties, and last year called on the government to move away from the day-to-day running of the service.