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Former Norfolk MP and hospital chairman given top NHS job

PUBLISHED: 13:59 05 September 2018 | UPDATED: 07:01 07 September 2018

David Prior.
Photo: Bill Smith

David Prior. Photo: Bill Smith

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A former Norfolk MP and hospital chairman has been given one of the health service’s top jobs.

David Prior will take over as chairman of NHS England this autumn.

He served as MP of north Norfolk between 1997 and 2001, and in 2002 was made chairman of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

Lord Prior, who is from Swannington, was caught up in an investigation into financial irregularities at private psychiatric hospital Cawston Park in 2006, but was cleared of any involvement in 2007.

He still has significant Norfolk links, including being involved in the founding of Jane Austen College and Sir Isaac Newton Sixth Form.

In 2012, he became a trustee of the Inspiration Trust academy group, but stepped down as a trustee when he got his ministerial job in 2015.

He also held a top job as chairman at the regulator the Care Quality Commission from 2013, before being appointed as parliamentary under-secretary of state for health in David Cameron’s government.

Lord Prior’s appointment could still be challenged by the House of Commons health and social care committee, but the government does not have to heed its advice.

The announcement of who would take over from current chairman Sir Malcolm Grant had been expected before the summer but was delayed.

And Lord Prior found himself in the headlines in July when his former Olympic showjumper lover Lizzie Purbrick, who lives in King’s Lynn, admitted using pig’s blood to write messages in Lord Prior’s London home.

Lord Prior has made some controversial comments on health during his career, including that funding the health service via tax “must be questioned” if economic growth does not keep up with demand and that even God would struggle to manage the NHS due to its size.

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