The new head of the NHS in England has written to staff about her plans for how to tackle the “formidable challenges” the health service faces.
Amanda Pritchard, who was announced as the new boss last week, said she is “optimistic” as well as “realistic” about the future.
Ms Pritchard officially became the new chief executive on Sunday when Lord Stevens stepped down from the role.
In her first message to all NHS staff, she said: “I do not underestimate the scale of the task we face nor the pressures that NHS staff in many areas are feeling.
“But while I am realistic, I am also optimistic.”
She thanked staff for all they had done during the pandemic which she described as “the most testing time in health service history” and said she wanted to “set out how together we can tackle the formidable challenges we face in the weeks, months and years ahead”.
Ms Pritchard, who has worked as chief operating officer for the last two years, joined the NHS as a graduate trainee and and is the first female leader in the history of the health service in England.
In her message to staff on Monday, she spoke of her “determination to deliver the long-term improvements in treatment and care which, coupled with a renewed focus on prevention, will enable many more people to live longer and more fulfilling lives”.
She added: “All of this means the NHS must continue to innovate and work in new ways to deliver the care that patients need and deserve.
“From the NHS Covid vaccination programme to virtual wards, the pandemic has shown the power of digital technology and data to transform care and tackle health inequalities.
“We must harness this power to ensure everyone can access the care they need, prevent illness and provide better treatment, and deliver on our long term ambitions to tackle major killers like cancer and stroke, saving many more lives.
“As we realise the potential of partnerships at a local level, and join up care across the NHS and beyond, smart digital solutions and joined up person-level data will help us meet population need and improve outcomes and experience for patients, while reducing bureaucracy and duplication.”