The Department of Health has announced a new role to streamline commercial costs in the health and pharmaceutical sector: chief commercial officer. Industry vet Steve Oldfield will be the first to take up the newly-created position in October.

Oldfield's initial focus will be the creation and development of the commercial strategy that will underpin upcoming negotiations with a variety of commercial suppliers, including key engagements with the pharmaceutical industry in particular over the PPRS scheme, under which the government presently spends circa £8 billion a year.

Reporting to DH’s permanent secretary, Chris Wormald, he will be the most senior commercial manager within the health family and will lead the development of commercial capability and sharing of commercial best practice across the wider health family to the benefit of the whole system.

Oldfield has more than 25 years’ experience in the healthcare industry. He is currently chief operating officer for PGT, a consumer health joint venture between Procter & Gamble and Teva, based in Geneva. Among his previous roles he has been the UK Managing Director for both Sanofi and Teva, as well as having senior roles in Asia and Latin America. He has also been involved for a number of years with industry-government initiatives, having served on the Board of the ABPI and co-chaired committees looking at the introduction and adoption of new medicines.

"We face a number of commercial challenges across the health family, not least putting in place the next generation of the medicines pricing scheme, but we see huge opportunities for better delivery for patients and better value for money for the taxpayers from improved commercial skills and experience," said Chris Wormald, permanent secretary of the Department of Health.

Paul Baumann, chief financial officer, NHS England added: "Building strong commercial capability is a high priority for NHS England, as we seek to provide access to the best drugs and treatments for patients in a way which secures the best possible value. We welcome this new appointment as part of the department’s initiatives in this area and look forward to close collaboration over the coming years."