NHS England has announced that its current chief executive, Sir Simon Stevens, will step down from the position at the end of July.

Stevens has led the NHS in England since April 2014, following a varied career in the health service which started in 1988, when he joined its graduate management programme.

Before becoming NHS England chief executive, Stevens worked in frontline NHS services and in international health care in both the public and private sectors. He has also worked in positions at the Department of Health and 10 Downing Street.

In a statement, NHS England said that Stevens confidentially notified its board last year of his intended departure this summer.

The NHS England board will now begin an open competitive recruitment process to find the organisations next leader, with the post expected to be advertised ‘shortly’.

When the board choses its candidate for the position, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care – Matt Hancock – will then have the final say on if they will succeed Stevens in the leadership role.

NHS England is aiming to have appointed Stevens' successor before he officially steps down on 31 July. Before his departure, Stevens will continue to lead the NHS and oversee the successful completion of the COVID-19 vaccination rollout for all adults.

“Joining the health service in my early twenties was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, followed three decades later by the privilege of leading the NHS through some of the toughest challenges in its history,” said Stevens.

“The people of this country have rightly recognised the extraordinary service of NHS staff during this terrible pandemic, as well as the success of our covid vaccination deployment. As the pandemic recedes in this country, the NHS’s track record in advancing medical progress in a way that works for everyone rightly continues to inspire young people to join one of the greatest causes – health and high quality care for all, now and for future generations,” he added.